PICS: Africa's first green commercial flight takes off

2016-07-15 13:42
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Cape Town - Boeing, South African Airways (SAA), and low-cost carrier Mango has successfully launched Africa’s first passenger flights using sustainable aviation biofuel which has been produced in South Africa. 

The airlines has been unveiling the campaign on #AfricanAviationDay on social media. The flights also coincided with Boeing’s 100th anniversary and centennial celebrations worldwide.

On the very first flights, SAA and Mango aircraft carried 300 passengers from Johannesburg to Cape Town on Friday, 15 July. The flights were operated by Boeing 737-800s using biofuel made by SkyNRG and Sunchem SA from the nicotine-free tobacco plant Solaris. 

Mango, which is owned by the SA flag carrier South African Airways, posted to their Facebook page on Friday morning, 15 July, saying, "MANGO, together with FlySAA is proud to launch the first Biofuel flight in Africa.

"This is a special moment for aviation as we show our commitment to the environment and the future of flying!"

Mango said it was "a mammoth historical moment" for the airline. 

According to Miguel Santos, managing director for Africa, Boeing International, “This project is a great example of environmental stewardship that delivers economic and health benefits to South Africa.”

Mango streamed the fueling of the flight LIVE from their Periscope page. Check it out:

The partners today also launched a stakeholder and sustainability plan called the Southern Africa Sustainable Fuel Initiative (SASFI), a programme aiming to ensure a long-term domestic fuel supply for SAA and other regional fuel users. 

If successful, farmers will be able to tap into local and global demand for certified feedstock without adverse impact to food supplies, fresh water or land use, the airlines say. 

In 2013, Boeing and SAA launched their sustainable aviation fuels collaboration and the following year Project Solaris became the first focus project that converted oil from the Solaris plant seed into bio-jet fuel. 

Then, in 2015, farms in Limpopo Province of South Africa, from which the biofuel for the aforementioned flights was sourced, were awarded certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB). The accolade is one of the strongest sustainability standards in the world, and provides a model for expansion of Project Solaris to larger scale production. 

The overall initiative, SAA says, also focuses on South Africa’s goals for public health, rural development and economic and employment opportunities for farmers by increasing production of Solaris and other feedstocks on under-utilized land.

Studies have shown that sustainably produced aviation biofuel emits 50 to 80% lower carbon emissions through its life cycle that fossil jet fuel. Airlines around the world have conducted more than 2 500 passenger flights using various forms of aviation biofuel since it was approved for commercial use in 2011.

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