Air New Zealand tested a jet fuel made from the jatropha plant on Tuesday as the airline searches for an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to crude oil.
For two hours, pilots tested the oil, in a 50-50 blend with conventional jet fuel in one of the four Rolls-Royce engines powering a Boeing 747-400 aircraft -- the first test flight by a commercial airline using jatropha oil. Rob Fyfe, Air New Zealand's chief executive, called the flight a milestone in commercial aviation. "Today we stand at the earliest stages of sustainable fuel development and an important moment in aviation history," he said. The project has been 18 months in the works.