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Continental, Boeing, GE To Partner On Biofuel Flight

continental_plane.jpgContinental Airlines, Boeing and GE Aviation have announced plans to conduct a biofuels demonstration flight in the first half of 2009 in an effort to identify sustainable fuel solutions for the aviation industry. Continental is the first major U.S. carrier to announce such a test.

Last month, Virgin Atlantic flew one of its Boeing 747 jumbo jets on biofuel from Heathrow to Amsterdam. That test happened shortly after Airbus flew an A380 using a liquid fuel processed from gas.

The group says it will work identify sustainable fuel sources that don’t impact food crops, water resources or contribute to deforestation. A criticism of Virgin’s flight was that biofuel crops are raising food costs in developing countries, damaging the environment and displacing indigenous local populations.

The biofuel flight will use a Boeing Next-Generation 737 equipped with CFM International engines. CFM is a 50/50 joint company of General Electric Company and Snecma. In the months leading up to the flight, Continental, Boeing and GE will work together and with an undisclosed fuel provider to identify sustainable fuel sources which can be produced in sufficient quantities.

Air New Zealand will conduct a demonstration flight of a second-generation biofuel later this year in partnership with Boeing and Rolls-Royce, Flight reports.

In December, Continental launched a carbon offset program for passengers.

Continental is a launch customer for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is powered by GE engines.

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