Wings Magazine

Azul Brazilian Airlines makes trip using sugarcane fuel

June 19, 2012, Sao Paulo, Brazil - Azul Brazilian Airlines, in partnership with Amyris Inc., Embraer and GE, made a demonstration flight today using an innovative, renewable jet fuel produced from Brazilian sugarcane. Heading to Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont Airport, the Embraer E195 jet operated by Azul departured from Campinas Viracopos Airport and has flown over the “Marvelous City” of Rio, which is hosting the U.N. Conference for Sustainable Development (Rio+20) this week.

June 19, 2012  By Carey Fredericks

Known as the Azul+Verde (a greener blue), this project began in November 2009 with the objective of evaluating a new concept in the development of a renewable jet fuel that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to providing an alternative to fossil fuels, the initiative represents another major step towards a sustainable air transportation industry.

“Azul’s commitment to reducing our dependency on volatile petroleum products goes beyond reducing our costs. The main objective is to innovate in our service offerings, using the best technologies to reduce our carbon footprint as well as raise awareness among our customers that they are not just choosing an airline that is merely concerned about the environment but is taking steps to preserve it,” said Flavio Costa, Chief Operating Officer of Azul Airlines.

A lifecycle analysis and sustainability study developed by a Brazilian think-tank, Institute for International Trade Negotiations (ICONE), indicates that the Amyris renewable jet fuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 82%, when compared to convention fossil-derived jet fuel.

“Amyris’s renewable jet fuel has been designed to be compliant with Jet A/A-1 fuel specifications. To that end, we have successfully undertaken a series of tests that measure its performance,” said John Melo, President & Chief Executive Officer of Amyris. “This demonstration flight caps a major milestone in our jet fuel program and allow us to pursue our certification and commercialization goals,” Melo concluded.


This fuel, referred to as AMJ 700, is made using modified microorganisms that function as living factories, converting sugar into pure renewable hydrocarbon. Such a process results in a renewable jet fuel that, once approved, will meet the most rigorous requirements of the aviation industry as well as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

A blend of conventional jet fuel and renewable fuel produced from the fermentation of Brazilian sugarcane was used in this demonstration flight, which was a first of its kind in the Brazilian aviation.

“During our ground tests at GE’s engine testing facility in Ohio earlier this year, the Amyris renewable fuel met all the required test objectives, and, in combination with our latest GE engine technologies, can further help the aviation industry meet its environmental targets for net greenhouse gas reductions,” said Steve Csonka, GE Aviation Director of Environmental Strategy and Ecomagination.

“Developed as drop-in, the renewable jet fuel did not require any modification or adaptation in the aircraft for the demonstration flight,” said Mauro Kern, Executive Vice President for Technology & Engineering at Embraer.  “The tests undertaken by Embraer with Amyris’s renewable jet fuel in Brazil were a success. This confirms the potential performance of this renewable fuel, whether on technical or environmental grounds. We are pleased with the technical success of this project and remain committed with the development of leading technologies, such as renewable fuels, that can contribute with the sustainability of the aviation industry,” Kern concluded.

“Azul greatly believes in Amyris technology. Brazil has abundant arable land, which allows for the growing of sugarcane in ways that do not displace other crops, such as food,” says Adalberto Febeliano, Director of Institutional Relations at Azul Airlines. “We expect that it will be possible to adopt this renewable fuel in commercial flights in the medium term, with a large-scale production economically viable,” he concluded.

This project had institutional support from Banco Pine, BR Aviation, Total, and the Inter-American Development Bank.


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