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Thai Airways conducts biofuel flight

Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) is set to be the first airline in Asia to fly a commercial passenger flight using biofuels, to support the Company’s Travel Green initiative as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program.

Mr. Piyasvasti Amranand, President of THAI, said that under the Environmental and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy, or “Travel Green,” THAI has developed an important project on sustainability, in line with His Majesty the King’s vision on renewable energy. In raising environmental awareness and the effects of global warming THAI, as the national carrier, has opted to operate a commercial flight using biofuel renewable energy as one way to help in the reduction of carbon dioxide. THAI hopes that its support and participation in using biofuels will encourage other carriers in the region to choose biofuel renewable energy over fossil fuels.

To reach sustained production of biofuels for aviation in Thailand, THAI will bring together organizations and businesses such as petroleum producers, research firms, educational institutions, aircraft and engine manufacturers, and different government bodies affiliated with the aviation industry to take part in the development. This project called “Sustainable Biofuels Development for Aviation Industry” aims to create both demand and supply, through clear national policies on biofuels, which can help to generate revenue in the agricultural sector. An important outcome is the potential for greater cooperation among the different aviation bodies at the national level for sound support and policies on sustained development of biofuels.

In order to boost awareness and support use of aviation biofuels in Thailand, THAI is operating its “THAI First Flight with Biofuels” TG8421 on 21 December 2011. This inaugural biofuels flight departs from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport at 14.00 hours on Boeing 777-200 aircraft, carrying members of the press and representatives from organizations and government functions that support the biofuels project, such as PTT Public Company Limited, Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Limited, Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited, Rolls Royce, and Boeing.

On 22 December 2011, THAI’s flight TG104 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, will be the “The First Passenger Biofuels Flight in Asia”. Revenue from this flight will go towards the development of renewable energy in Thailand. In an effort to promote environmental awareness among youths, THAI is flying 100 students and teachers on flight TG104 called the “Pah Nong Tong Fah”.

Mr. Saran Rangkasiri, Executive Vice President for the Oil Business Unit, PTT Public Company Limited, said that PTT pioneered the use of renewable energy in Thailand and continuously supports the development of environmentally conscious quality products. PTT has provided support by obtaining eight tons of aviation biofuels, valued at 2.5 million baht, which was imported from Sky NRG, a leading aviation biofuels agent in the Netherlands. Sky NRG also arranges aviation biofuels for KLM and Finnair for flights flown within Europe.

Biofuels have been tested by international airlines, including Air New Zealand, Continental Airlines, and KLM, which showed it has the same quality as Jet A-1 traditional petroleum-based fossil fuel. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International) has certified that biofuels combined with Jet A-1 fuel, at a maximum ratio of 50:50, can be used in place of pure Jet A-1 fuel in accordance with the ASTM D7566 standard. In order that THAI’s special flight may be “Travel Green,” PTT MCC Biochem Co. Ltd. and PTT Polymer Marketing Co. Ltd. cooperated with plastic producers to manufacture laminated paper cups made from 100% recycled glass that will be introduced for the first time to the business sector in Thailand. This cooperation is an important step for the country to build global confidence and is a sign of readiness to become the “Bio hub of Asia,” complementing PTT’s vision and businesses in the energy sector while maintaining Corporate Social Responsibility for the long term.

Mr. Ralph L. “Skip” Boyce, President of Boeing Southeast Asia, Boeing International Corporation, said that this flight which is part of THAI’s “Sustainable Biofuels Development for Aviation Industry” project is an initiative that brings together different players in the industry; from aircraft to engine manufacturers, research companies, fuel producers, education institutions, government bodies, and the media. As an aircraft manufacturer, Boeing does more than just bring newer, more efficient products to its customers, such as the significantly more fuel efficient 787 which THAI will operate in the future. Working together with leading researchers and industries, Boeing is pioneering ways to develop biofuels and is committed to working with industry partners to find the means to a quieter, cleaner, and more cost effective flight experience for airline customers and their passengers.

Wing Commander Prajak Sajjasophon, Managing Director of Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Public Company Limited, said that AEROTHAI supports THAI’s biofuels efforts through air traffic control, flight operations plan and design, so that the first biofuels flight runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Best practices and expertise in aeronautical radio are implemented based AEROTHAI’s experience with the “THAI Aspire Flight” which was conducted as a “perfect flight” to reduce global warming. During that flight, the best technology, processes, new flight operations techniques, and carbon dioxide emissions reduction were used to reflect THAI’s “Travel Green” concept. The following special procedures are used for “THAI’s First Flight with Biofuels,” as follows:

1. Use of “surface optimization,” which is optimum ground handling at the airline that is implemented to decrease delays and reduce fuel waste during takeoff.

2. Use of “continuous climb,” which involves gradual and steady climb, instead of change of height level.

3. Flying “direct routes” or by flying a direct flight path that is within closest proximity.

4. Use of “continuous descent operation” (CDO), which is gradual descent at a regular pace while landing at the airport. This makes the flight more effective, modern, comfortable, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly.

Flight Lieutenant Anirut Thanombutr, Managing Director of Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited, said that Airports of Thailand (AOT) administers six primary airports in Thailand, with cares for the environment and society. With regards to reduction of carbon dioxide emissions the AOT has implemented “Green Buildings” in its passenger terminal building at Suvarnabhumi Airport, using natural light and energy originating from heated water transformed into electricity for cooling purposes. This effectively reduces the use of electricity. AOT plans to implement “green building” at other airports, such as Phuket International Airport. AOT has also put into action “Clean & Renewable Energy” whereby ground handling vehicles and airport shuttles are electrically powered to avoid air pollution. In addition, AOT uses “Hybrid Synergy Airport Limousines”. “Fixed Electrical Ground Power Supply” system is also used to reduce “Aircraft Auxiliary Unit” in the airport parking bay area, which normally releases a substantial amount of carbon dioxide emission. Furthermore, some stations use solar-powered energy to generate electricity for equipment and communication tools that is used to measure noise pollution.

THAI is cooperating with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in working towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 5% by the year 2020, and equivalent to zero carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2057. Currently, the aviation industry releases 2 percent of carbon dioxide in the world, which is not much when compared to other industries. However, if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced by 5 percent per year, it will result in a carbon dioxide increase in the environment by 3 percent, or up to 20 million tons per year.

THAI is proud be the first airline in Asia to operate the commercial passenger domestic flight using biofuels, based on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy that focuses on “Travel Green”.

Source: Thai Airways

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Rajowan Syed

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