Continental launches US’s first scheduled biofuel flight

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Published: November 8, 2011

United subsidiary Continental Airlines 737-800. Courtesy, UCH

United Continental Holdings (UCH) said Monday its subsidiary Continental Airlines (CO) operated a Boeing 737-800 on a scheduled flight from Houston Intercontinental to Chicago O’Hare using a fuel blend partially comprised of algae-derived biofuel. It marked the first scheduled, commercial biofuel flight operated in the US.

“Roughly four months since the approval of hydroprocessed renewable fuels in commercial aviation [ ATW Daily News June 13 ], we are excited to see the deployment of these fuels on a domestic US flight,” US Air Transport Assn. (ATA) VP and chief economist John Heimlich said in a statement.

CO-parent UCH said San Francisco-based Solazyme worked with Honeywell UOP to develop “the algae oil that was refined into jet fuel to power today’s commercial flight.” The fuel is partially made up of “100% algae-derived jet fuel,” UCH stated.

UCH said Monday it signed a letter of intent with Solazyme “to negotiate the purchase of 20 million gallons of jet fuel per year, derived exclusively from algae oil, for delivery as early as 2014.”

CO operated a biofuel test flight in January 2009 ( ATW Daily News, Jan. 8, 2009 ).

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