Boeing is to co-operate again with Air China and PetroChina and arrange a second test flight that will be partly powered by plant oil later this year.
This test, scheduled for the autumn, is likely to involve a trans-Pacific trip, far longer than the one-hour test flight that was conducted in China last October. The project aims to prove that a China sourced and produced biofuel will work satisfactorily, as well as ensure that regulators and airlines around the world would be happy to use it for commercial flights.
The planned test, like that of 2011, will involve the employment of a biofuel produced by PetroChina from locally grown jatropha, a thorny green shrub. Jatropha-based fuel, produced with oil extracted from the seeds, could have particular appeal in China, where there are huge areas of barren land that could be used to cultivate this plant.