Paris Air Show wearing green

June 27, 2011

Springtime in Paris was a little greener at the forty-ninth Paris Air Show this year as manufacturers demonstrated environmentally friendly biofuels, diesel power, and electric power.

A Boeing 747-8 arrived using a blend of 85-percent Jet A and 15-percent biofuels based on the camelina plant—a cattle-feed supplement—to feed all four engines during a flight from Seattle to Paris. The U.S. Air Force used a 50-50 mix of a similar fuel to power an F–22 Raptor past Mach 1.5 earlier this year.

The Bill Gates-backed Sapphire Energy told Paris Air Show attendees it will produce 20,000 barrels of algae-based fuel in two years.

A Gulfstream G450 using a 50-50 blend of Green Jet Fuel, developed by Honeywell, and Jet A to power one of its two engines on a flight across the Atlantic also landed at the Paris Air Show. Publicists claimed it is the first business jet to cross the Atlantic using a biofuels for one of its engines.

Gulfstream said it worked closely with Honeywell to ensure the viability of the company’s camelina-derived biofuel.

EADS Eurocopter said it will use Diamond’s Austro engine to provide diesel power for its EC120 model to reduce fuel consumption and increase the range of the helicopter. EADS is working with Megachrome and TEOS Powertrain Engineering to install the engines in the helicopter. The technology is partly funded by the European Clean Sky Program.

Diamond entered the race to green technology when it presented a DA36 E-Star electric aircraft that first flew June 8. The two-seat motorglider was built by four partners in Austria.

The aircraft, based on the HK36 Super Dimona, uses a 70 kilowatt motor to power the propeller. It, in turn, is powered by a generator turned by a small Wankel engine from Austro Engine. A battery system from EADS provides an extra boost of power for takeoff and climb from an accumulator that is recharged in cruise flight.

As is the case with most new technologies, there is controversy. Opponents of biofuels see farmers switching to crops that could feed the hungry but power jet aircraft instead. Developers of the fuels point out that many of the plants are not used for human consumption, and can be rotated with food crops, thus allowing the land to continue to produce food for humans.

Al Marsh

Alton K. Marsh | AOPA Pilot Senior Editor, AOPA

AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.