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Wed, Nov 12, 2008

Air New Zealand, Boeing Announce Date For Biofuels Test Flight

747-400 Powered By Sustainable Fuel To Fly December 3

Air New Zealand and Boeing announced Tuesday that December 3 will be the date for the airline's sustainable biofuels flight from Auckland using a 747-400 jetliner. Conducted in partnership with Rolls-Royce and UOP, a Honeywell company, one of the airplane's four Rolls-Royce RB211 engines will be powered in part using advanced generation biofuels derived from jatropha.

If successful, Air New Zealand will become the first airline to use a commercially viable biofuel sourced using sustainability best practices, according to Boeing.

"This flight strongly supports our efforts to be the world's most environmentally responsible airline," said Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe. "We recently demonstrated the fuel and environmental gains that can be achieved through advanced operational procedures using Boeing 777s. We're also modernizing our fleet as we await our Trent 1000-powered 787-9 Dreamliners, which will burn 20 percent less fuel than the planes they replace. Introducing a new generation of sustainable fuels is the next logical step in our efforts to further save fuel and reduce aircraft emissions."

Jatropha is a plant that grows to approximately three meters high and produces seeds that contain inedible lipid oil that is used to produce fuel. Each seed produces between 30 and 40 percent of its mass in oil and jatropha can be grown in a range of difficult conditions, including arid and otherwise non-arable areas, leaving prime areas available for food crops.

As part of the fuel verification process, UK-based engine maker Rolls-Royce's technical team conducted extensive laboratory testing to ensure compatibility with today's jet engine components and to validate the fuel meets stringent performance criteria for aviation fuel.

"In preparation for Air New Zealand's test flight we achieved our near-term goal -- identifying and sourcing the first large-scale run of sustainable biofuel for commercial aviation," said Boeing Commercial Airplane's Managing Director of Environmental Strategy Billy Glover. "The processing technology exists today, and based on results we've seen, it's highly encouraging that this fuel not only met but exceeded three key criteria for the next generation of jet fuel: higher than expected jet fuel yields, very low freeze point and good energy density," Glover explained. "That tells us we're on the right path to certification and commercial availability."

Additional flight specifics will be announced closer to the actual flight date.

FMI: www.airnewzealand.com, www.boeing.com

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