An Airbus A380 aircraft has successfully completed the world’s first ever flight by a commercial aircraft using a liquid fuel processed from gas (Gas to Liquids – GTL) in the first stage of a test flight program to evaluate the environmental impact of alternative fuels in the airline market. The flight from Filton, UK to Toulouse, France, lasted three hours.
Shell International Petroleum provided the Shell GTL Jet Fuel. The tests are running in parallel to the agreement signed in November 2007 with the Qatar GTL consortium partners and the results will be shared.
The A380 has four engines including segregated fuel tanks which airbus says makes it ideal for engine shut down and re-light tests. During the flight, engine number one was fed with a blend of GTL and jet fuel while the remaining three were fed with standard jet fuel.
This is the first step of a long-term Airbus testing phase to evaluate alternative fuels. “GTL could be available at certain locations to make it a practical and viable drop-in alternative fuel for commercial aviation in the short term,” Airbus said in a statement. “GTL has attractive characteristics for local air quality, as well as some benefits in terms of aircraft fuel burn relative to existing jet fuel. For instance, it is virtually free of sulphur. Synthetic fuel can be made from a range of hydrocarbon source material including natural gas or organic plant matter made by a process called Fischer-Tropsch.”