Biofuel-powered flight from Beijing to Chicago first for Chinese airlines.
Hainan Airlines is leading China’s air carriers in the use of biofuels, operating the nation’s first international flight using a blend of recycled cooking oil. The Daily Mail reports that the flight took place on November 21, 2017, operated with one of the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
The aircraft, carrying 186 passengers and 15 crew members, was powered by a biofuel consisting of 15 percent used cooking oil. Captained by Hainan’s chief executive, the flight covered 6,100 miles and 11 hours before successfully landing at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD).
Although the flight is the first of its kind between China and the United States, more “green routes” are coming for international flights. Hainan’s flight between Beijing and Chicago is the first route that will be powered by biofuels, with more to be announced.
Using recycled fuel is part of an overall move to increase environmental sustainability in the aviation industry. In 2016, both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines experimented with biofuels to power their aircraft. Scientists estimate using biofuels can reduce an aircraft’s carbon footprint by 30 percent. Data published by Chinese state news agency Xinhua suggests using biofuels for all Chinese carriers would reduce 33 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions – the equivalent of 20 million cars.
While the flight is the first international biofuel service for a Chinese carrier, it is not the first for Hainan Airlines. In 2015, the carrier operated a domestic flight using a fuel with recycled oil: a Boeing 737 flown from Shanghai to Beijing.