(Corrects 2nd paragraph to show flight was on Dec. 30, not
SYDNEY Jan 1 Oil from the seeds of a poisonous
shrub helped power a New Zealand airliner in a test flight, at
a time when airlines hit by high oil prices and pressured over
the impact of planes on the environment seek greener fuels.
An Air New Zealand Boeing 747 flew for two hours on Dec. 30
with one of its four engines powered by a 50-50 mixture of jet
fuel and jatropha oil, the airline said in a statement.
Jatropha is a plant that grows up to three metres and
produces inedible fruits, which contain the oil. It is grown on
arid and marginal land in India, parts of Africa and other
countries, and has been touted for mass production for biofuels
because it does not compete for resources with food crops.
Air New Zealand, which hopes to use one million barrels of
biofuel a year, or about 10 percent of its fuel consumption, by
2013, said the flight was the world's first commercial aviation
test flight powered by jatropha.
"It is Air New Zealands long-term goal to become the worlds
most environmentally sustainable airline and we have today made
further significant progress towards this," Chief Executive Rob
Fyfe said in the statement.
The fuel mixture performed well in a range of tests, the
Other experts have warned that jatropha does not offer an
easy answer to biofuels problems because it is toxic and yields
are unreliable. It is also a labour-intensive crop as each
fruit ripens at a different time and needs to be harvested
British-based Virgin Atlantic used a bio-jet fuel blend
made from babassu and coconut oils in a commercial flight in
(Reporting by Jonathan Standing, Editing by Dean Yates)