Feeds

A380 superjumbo in natural-gas powered test flight

Slipping the surly bonds of the oil market

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.