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Air Canada to operate biofuel flights as part of contrail research project

Air Canada has announced that it is to participate in the Civil Aviation Alternate Fuel Contrail and Emissions Research project (CAAFCER), a research project led by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to test the environmental benefits of biofuel use on contrails.

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner dubbed as the world’s most modern commercial aircraft (photo courtesy Air Canada).

Canada’s national air carrier Air Canada has announced its participation in the Civil Aviation Alternate Fuel Contrail and Emissions Research project (CAAFCER), a research project led by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to test the environmental benefits of biofuel use on contrails.

– We are pleased to support Canada’s research on the additional benefits of aviation biofuel. This project is an important step in furthering the industry’s understanding of how biofuel reduces aviation’s carbon footprint and overall environmental impact, said Teresa Ehman, Director of Environmental Affairs at Air Canada in a statement.

Measure impact of contrails

A reduction in the thickness and coverage of contrails produced by the jet engines of aircraft could reduce aviation’s impact on the environment. The project will use advanced sensing equipment mounted on a research aircraft operated by the NRC to measure the impact of biofuel blends on contrail formation by aircraft on five biofuel flights operated by Air Canada between Montreal and Toronto in the coming days’ weather permitting.

During these flights, the National Research Council of Canada will trail the Air Canada aircraft with a modified T-33 research jet to sample and test the contrail biofuel emissions. The sustainable biofuel is produced by AltAir Fuels from used cooking oil and supplied by SkyNRG.

– The National Research Council of Canada is proud to collaborate with our Canadian partners on this important research that will further reveal the viability of biofuels. By contributing our unique T-33 research aircraft specializing in contrail data collection and our expertise in emissions analysis, we hope to provide key information toward biofuel inclusion in all future flights, said Jerzy Komorowski, General Manager of NRC’s Aerospace portfolio.

– We significantly improve airplane fuel efficiency through constant technology and operational improvements. But additional efforts are required to achieve aviation’s ambitious carbon-reduction targets. Sustainable aviation fuels have the single greatest potential to reach those goals and we are committed to supporting projects like this around the world to advance aviation’s knowledge and growing use of biofuel, said Sheila Remes, Vice President of strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

About the project

The project involves six stakeholder organizations, with primary funding from the Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN), a non-profit organization funded by the Business-Led Network of Centres of Excellence of the Government of Canada and the Canadian aerospace industry.

 

The project has further financial support from the NRC and the enabling support of Air Canada ground and flight operations. In addition to Air Canada, other CAAFCER partners include (alphabetical order) Boeing, National Research Council Canada (NRC), SkyNRG, University of Alberta, and Waterfall.

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