Finnair flies on biofuels mix from San Francisco

Finnair launched its first bio-fuel mixed flight from San Francisco to Helsinki on August 5 using an A330-300 and will operate another on August 7.

The fuel is 12% biofuel mixed with standard jet fuel and across the flight distance saved 32 tons of Co2 from entering the atmosphere.

One of the reasons aviation Co2 is so much worse than ground emitted Co2, is that it’s delivered directly to the high atmosphere and doesn’t undergo any reductions from natural processes. Rain, plants and oceans partially mitigate ground based Co2 emissions, although nowhere near as much as is required to counter global warming.

Aviation emissions are three times more damaging because of where they’re emitted at high altitudes.

While Finnair are to be congratulated for making some small progress, 32 tons is a drop in the ocean – all airlines need to be doing this now, and as fast as possible.

The problems lie in distribution and delivery to airports which simply don’t make any real effort to change their systems to accommodate biofuel distribution.

Those airlines that do – in a limited way – use biofuels frequently, need them trucked into airports, undermining the Co2 savings by using road transport.

Airbus is aiming to deliver all of its aircraft on initial flights using a biofuel mix.

Many airlines have trialled Co2 reducing bio-fuel mixes, but none have been able to go over 100% because of delivery issues.

British Airways has invested in a refinery and tested flights, it hopes to deliver more to Heathrow over time, Virgin Atlantic is keen to adopt more and has tested flights.

Delta has also tested, owns a refinery in New York, but hasn’t yet moved far towards biofuels. United recently trialled flights on a 787. KLM has also trialled flights successfully.

That the US airlines are still moving towards Co2 reductions in a country whose government is banned from even mentioning climate change under Trump, is itself encouraging.

All airlines need to do much more much faster.