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Airline used 50-50 mix of jet fuel and synthetic

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, December 29, 2008) - Air New Zealand says it has successfully flown a test flight powered by second-generation biofuel, calling it a "significant milestone" in the development of sustainable aircraft fuels.

The airline used a 50-50 blend of standard jet fuel and synthetic fuel made from the oil of jatropha plant seeds, to power one of the engines on a Boeing 747 during the two-hour test flight.

The flight was the first to use jatropha biofuel, and follows an earlier Virgin Atlantic test flight this year which used a blend of oils including coconut and babassu nut.

"We undertook a range of tests on the ground and in flight with the jatropha biofuel performing well through both the fuel system and engine," Air New Zealand chief pilot Dave Morgan said.

Mr Morgan says further studies will be carried out on the engine and fuel systems as the airline moves towards having jatropha certified as an aviation fuel.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who is also tourism minister, called the flight a "historic day for aviation".

Critics have warned that while biofuels may offer a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, their use may contribute to the turning over of farmland to cultivate biofuel at the expense of food crops

Radio Australia

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