Air Canada conducts its first biofuel flight

Air Canada (Montreal) yesterday (June 18) operated it first biofuel flight. Flight AC 991 from Toronto (Pearson) to Mexico City generated at least 40 per cent fewer emissions by using jet fuel derived from recycled cooking oil and through other fuel-saving measures, making it the most environmentally-friendly flight ever flown by Air Canada. The flight is supported by Airbus and is part of an environmental demonstration by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to coincide with the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

AC991 will be a normal revenue flight operated with an Airbus A319 aircraft using a 50/50 mix of regular and biofuel derived from recycled cooking oil. This blend produced by SkyNRG has been recertified to normal jet fuel standards and can be safely used without modifying the aircraft’s systems.

Flight AC991 is being operated as part of ICAO’s Flightpath to a Sustainable Future. In addition to alternative fuel, Air Canada will also use other techniques and measures it has adopted to reduce the flight’s environmental impact. These include:

Pre-flight maintenance preparation:

  • Fuselage wash and wax to improve aerodynamics
  • Interior clean and reconciliation of service items to reduce excess weight
  • Installation of lightweight aisle carpet
  • Engine compressor wash to increase efficiency
  • iPad Electronic Flight Bag in lieu of paper documents for pilots to save weight

Pre-flight operations:

  • Minimizing emissions from on-board Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) through use of ground power at gate and use of conditioned air
  • Streamlining push-back procedures to reduce fuel usage
  • Taxiing the aircraft to the runway with one engine
  • Minimizing taxi time to runway


  • Reduced thrust take-off
  • Air conditioning adjusted to save power


  • Immediate turn towards destination
  • Optimized climb to optimal cruise altitude


  • Optimized cruise speed and altitude
  • Most direct routing through Canadian, US, and Mexican airspace
  • Use of live weather updates accessed through iPad for re-routing due to weather


  • Constant descent using optimized descent rate along most direct routing


  • Direct taxi to gate with minimal delay
  • Taxiing the aircraft with one engine
  • Minimizing use of APU at gate through use of ground power.

Copyright Photo: Eddie Maloney.

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