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World-First Jatropha biofuel Test Flight

The jatropha fuel has now been blended 50:50 with standard Jet A1 fuel by Air New Zealand at its Auckland Engineering Base.

The biofuel blend, named NZ-J50, has now been transferred into an RNZAF fuel tanker ready to fuel the Air New Zealand Boeing 747-400.

The two-hour test flight is scheduled to take-off from Auckland airport on Tuesday morning, with the jatropha biofuel blend powering one of the four Rolls-Royce RB211 engines.

The pilot in command of the biofuel test flight is Air New Zealand 747 Fleet Manager Captain Keith Pattie. During the flight Captain Pattie and his crew will undertake a number of fuel tests confirming and measuring the performance of the engine and fuel systems at various altitudes and under a variety of operating conditions.

View flight profile

Take off:
A full powered take off, with throttles advanced slowly as per normal operating procedure, establish at three-quarter power and then to full power.

The aircraft climbs to 25,000 feet. At an altitude of 20,000 - 25,000 feet, the main fuel pump for engine one (the engine powered by biofuel) will be switched off. This will test the lubricity of the fuel, ensuring that the friction of the fuel does not slow down its flow to the engine.

Once cruising at 35,000 feet the auto-throttle will be switched off and the crew will manually set all engine controls, so the Engine Pressure Ratios (EPRs) across all four engines can be checked for identical readings.

The crew will then control the fuel pressure to manage and measure the rate of change of fuel to the engine under these changing operating conditions.

Engine one will be shut down at 26,000 feet with a windmilling restart at 300 knots. An engine shutdown will take place again at 18,000 feet, this time with a starter-assisted relight at 220 knots.

Simulated approach and go around:
When the aircraft is at 11,000 feet the autopilot will be programmed to land on a runway that is "located" at 8,000 feet and undertake a missed approach. This is to test the performance of the fuel under maximum thrust.

The flight will be completed with a normal landing, including the use of reverse thrust upon touchdown. The aircraft will then taxi back to the hardstand, stop all engines and restart engine one by itself.





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