Wings Magazine

Air Canada to conduct first biofuel flight

June 18, 2012, Montreal - Air Canada will operate its first flight with biofuel today to highlight the airline's commitment to the environment. Flight AC991 from Toronto to Mexico City is expected to generate at least 40 per cent fewer emissions by using jet fuel derived from recycled cooking oil and through other fuel-saving measures, making it the most environmentally-friendly flight ever flown by Air Canada.

June 18, 2012  By Carey Fredericks

The flight is supported by Airbus and is part of an environmental demonstration by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to coincide with the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

"Air Canada fully accepts its responsibility to reduce its footprint and our first flight using biofuel tangibly demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the environment. Since 1990 our airline has become 30 per cent more fuel efficient and we are determined to increase these gains through cutting-edge measures such as those being showcased with this Toronto-Mexico City flight, our greenest ever," said Duncan Dee, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Air Canada. "The flight, supported by Airbus, will link with other biofuel flights from Canada to Rio de Janeiro arranged under the auspices of ICAO to underscore the aviation industry's commitment to the environment at the UN sustainability conference."

"Today's flight with Air Canada proves that the aviation industry is in a strong position to reduce emissions," said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO. "To make this a day-to-day commercial reality, it requires now a political will to foster incentives to scale up the use of sustainable biofuels and to accelerate the modernization of the air-traffic-management system. We need a clear endorsement by governments and all aviation stakeholders to venture beyond today's limitations."

Today's AC991 will be a normal revenue flight operated with an Airbus A319 aircraft using a 50/50 mix of regular and biofuel derived from recycled cooking oil. This blend produced by SkyNRG has been recertified to normal jet fuel standards and can be safely used without modifying the aircraft's systems.


Flight AC991 is being operated as part of ICAO's Flightpath to a Sustainable Future. In addition to alternative fuel, Air Canada will also use other techniques and measures it has adopted to reduce the flight's environmental impact. These include:

Pre-flight maintenance preparation:

Fuselage wash and wax to improve aerodynamics
Interior clean and reconciliation of service items to reduce excess weight
Installation of lightweight aisle carpet
Engine compressor wash to increase efficiency
iPad Electronic Flight Bag in lieu of paper documents for pilots to save weight
Pre-flight operations:

Minimizing emissions from on-board Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) through use of ground power at gate and use of conditioned air
Streamlining push-back procedures to reduce fuel usage
Taxiing the aircraft to the runway with one engine
Minimizing taxi time to runway

Reduced thrust take-off
Air conditioning adjusted to save power

Immediate turn towards destination
Optimized climb to optimal cruise altitude

Optimized cruise speed and altitude
Most direct routing through Canadian, US, and Mexican airspace
Use of live weather updates accessed through iPad for re-routing due to weather

Constant descent using optimized descent rate along most direct routing

Direct taxi to gate with minimal delay
Taxiing the aircraft with one engine
Minimizing use of APU at gate through use of ground power.


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