India’s first Biofuel flight takes off

New Delhi: India’s first Biofuel-powered flight was successfully tested for domestic operations on Monday between Dehradun and New Delhi. The Bio-fuel is expected to reduce India’s dependency on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) and help bring down air fares.

The SpiceJet aircraft was flagged off by Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Trivendra Singh Rawat, and was received in New Delhi by Union Ministers of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu, and Science and Technology, Harsh Vardhan. Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet Ajay Singh, and senior government and aviation officials were also present at the occasion.

“On August 10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the new Biofuel policy and today we have successfully implemented it in the aviation sector. This is a great achievement for clean energy, Biofuel energy and aviation industry. The Petroleum Ministry will soon come up with a new BioATF policy,” Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told ANI.

He added that ATF price is the key component in the aviation industry, and in the coming days, India is hoping to reduce its import dependency in this area. “In the emerging aviation industry, this will be beneficial for everybody since it is not only economical but also environment-friendly. It would help generate employment and additional income for the farmers,” Pradhan said.

“The GST (Goods and Service Tax) on Bio-diesel has been reduced to 12 per cent from 18 per cent. On Ethanol it has been reduced to 5 per cent. Last year, we bought 3,500 crores of Ethanol, and it would increase. There would also be an increase in the business of Bio-diesel and Bio-CNG (Compressed Natural Gas). We have achieved the most challenging aspect that is to find a substitute for the ATF. And, in the coming days, there would be a rise in bio-energy from all sides, be it ATF, transportation liquid fuel, or CNG,” Pradhan added.
Speaking on the effects of Biofuel on aviation fuel prices, Road Transport and Highways minister Nitin Gadkari said the government is working to bring down the cost of this fuel.
“It is Rs 70 per litre today. This would be reduced to Rs 55/litre soon and the manufacturing of aviation fuel will increase in India. There is already the market of Rs 30, 000 crore. Tribals and farmers will get jobs from this process. We will increase the productivity using biotechnology. We had a discussion with the Petroleum Minister on making a special policy on Biofuel ATF and then bringing it in the cabinet,” Gadkari said.

Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu emphasised that the use of alternative fuel would benefit the consumers. “We import oil in large quantities and it is consumed by the whole transportation sector. Biofuel would reduce the quantity of our imports, emission of greenhouse gases, and would further benefit the consumers,” Prabhu told ANI.

Expressing happiness over the success of the test flight, Chairman and Managing Director of SpiceJet, Ajay Singh said that this will eventually help in bringing down the air fares.
“This fuel is low cost and helps in significantly reducing carbon emissions. It has the potential to reduce our dependence on traditional Aviation Fuel by 50 per cent on every flight and bring down air fares. India is the fastest growing aviation market in the world today and it is our responsibility to grow using clean and sustainable technologies,” said Singh.

Made from Jatropha crop, Biofuel has been developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP), in Dehradun. It has been recognised by American Standard Testing Method (ASTM) and meets the specification standards of Pratt and Whitney and Bombardier for commercial application in aircraft.

SpiceJet had last year placed orders for 205 Boeing 737 Max fuel-efficient planes that are expected to reduce fuel consumption by about 15% and will leave 40% lesser noise footprint. SpiceJet said that the company intends to use the mixture of 75% ATF and 25% Biofuel in its operations.

According to International Air Transport Association (IATA), aviation industry contributes to 2% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the world. The advantage of Biofuel as compared to ATF is that it reduces carbon emissions and enhances fuel efficiency.