First ATR Biofuel Demonstrator Takes Flight

 - February 1, 2017, 11:26 AM
A BRA ATR 72-600 powered by a biofuel blend consisting of 45-percent cooking oil takes off from Stockholm-Bromma Airport. (Photo: ATR)

An ATR 72-600 operated by Swedish carrier BRA (formerly Braathens Regional) took off from Stockholm-Bromma Airport on Wednesday for a flight to Umeå fueled with 45 percent used cooking oil, marking the first biofuel-powered flight of an ATR aircraft.

BRA provides an essential air service to link its main hub of Stockholm-Bromma to 12 Swedish regions served with a fleet now in transition from Saab 2000s to ATR 72-600s.

Several research and development initiatives have started in Sweden to produce biofuels from different types of wood. Forests cover more than 50 percent of the country, and grow at a rate of 120 million cubic meters annually. Making domestic air traffic in Sweden completely fossil-free would require less than 2 percent of the total annual forest growth, according to government estimates.

Meanwhile, ATR continues to invest in what it calls virtuous technologies and contributes to European environmental research and development efforts, including support to customers and local governments in developing business plans related to fuel selection, routing, certification and biofuel availability.  

Today’s challenge is to get a large-scale production of biofuels at affordable costs while avoiding a negative impact on the environment,” said ATR CEO Christian Scherer. “Swedish airlines like BRA can take advantage of the massive expansion of its forests, along with the operation of fuel-efficient turboprops, to reach the ambitious goal of halving their CO2 emissions by 2025.”

BRA chief executive Christian Clemens remains critical of proposals within the Swedish government aimed at meeting that goal, however. “Sweden is currently debating a new tax on aviation,” said Clemens. “It will have a minimal impact on emissions, and will unfortunately slow down the pace in which we can continue to make aviation more sustainable.”