August 27 might just go down in history as an important moment for India. No, we’re not talking about Patanjali’s failure to launch their Kimbho app (again). Spice Jet may have just taken the first step towards cleaning up an industry that contributes to 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The company announced that they have successfully flown a plane using a mixture of biofuel and normal aviation fuel. Spice Jet’s 25-min test flight between Delhi and Dehradun carried around 20 people, including officials from the DGCA and the airline itself.
The biofuel was made from the Jatropha crop at the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehradun. According to Spice Jet boss Ajay Singh, this could be a game changer for his company and for the entire industry. “It has the potential to reduce our dependence on traditional aviation fuel by up to 50 per cent on every flight and bring down fares,” he said.
With depreciating rupee valuations, rising oil prices, and fewer partners to buy oil from since the ban on Iran comes into effect soon, this could be a game changer for the Indian aviation industry.
Anil Sinha, the principal scientist at IIP, told YourStory that procuring feed for the biofuel is going to be a challenge. However, once the system is created, it will be a boost for the agro-forestry sector. Seed-bearing trees can be used for biofuel formation, so in the coming years, biofuel production will surely give a boost to agro-forestry,” he said.
This project has the backing of the government as well, as Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Prasad endorsed the move. “Today, we have successfully implemented it in the aviation sector. It’s a big achievement in aviation and the clean energy sector. GST has been decreased on biodiesel and ethanol,” he said.
The first ever commercial plane to run on biofuel was ten years ago between London and Amsterdam. The flight was operated by Virgin Atlantic.