Feeds

A380 superjumbo in natural-gas powered test flight

Slipping the surly bonds of the oil market

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The world's largest passenger airliner, the Airbus A380, has successfully made a test flight using synthetic jet fuel partly made from natural gas. The test is the latest step in moves by airliner builders and operators to diversify the sources of their fuel supplies.

Reuters reports that the monster double-decker superjumbo flew from the Airbus company facility at Filton near Bristol to Toulouse in France, the aircraft's main manufacturing base. The plane, which needed no modifications to use the new fuel, ran on a blend of 60 per cent regular jet fuel and 40 synthetic.

The synthetic fuel was made in Malaysia using the so-called "Gas To Liquid" (GTL) process, analogous to the Fischer-Tropsch method used to make fuel from coal. GTL is still fossil fuel, but its availability allows airlines to buy from a wider range of suppliers. With volatile Gulf-area politics having such a serious effect on world oil supplies, this is seen as well worthwhile by industry titans such as Airbus and its great rival Boeing. The US Air Force, too, is working hard to shake off its current dependence on crude, too.

In future if now right now, there might be some prospect of carbon reductions. Airbus' Sebastien Remy told Reuters that the company is "preparing for (the) emergence of a wider slate of synthetic fuels". He said that Airbus would like to run its jets on biomass feedstocks rather than fossil ones in future, though it is keen to avoid the controversial use of food crops.

That mirrors Boeing's stated plans, and chimes with a recent decision by Shell to take another look at saltwater algae as a fuel feedstock.

Meanwhile, Remy predicted that Qatar Airways might be the first airline to use natural-gas GTL fuel in A380s. Qatar has huge reserves of gas, and plans to build a GTL plant in partnership with Shell by 2011. The national carrier will get its first A380 in 2009. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.