Coconut Oil Powers Boeing 747

Coconut oil has been used to power diesel engines for decades. Using coconut oil in place of or as an additive to regular diesel fuel increases power, extends engine life, and dramatically cuts toxic emissions. Because of these advantages coconut oil is being tested as a jet fuel.

Virgin Atlantic Airlines carried out the world’s first flight of a commercial aircraft powered with a biofuel made from coconut oil in 2008. The Boeing 747 flew fromLondontoAmsterdam. Neither the jet nor the engines needed to be redesigned or altered for this test flight.

“This breakthrough will help Virgin Atlantic to fly its planes using clean fuel sooner than expected,” Sir Richard Branson, the airline’s president, said before the Boeing 747 flew fromLondon’sHeathrowAirporttoAmsterdam’sSchipholAirport. He said the flight would provide “crucial knowledge that we can use to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint.”

The flight was partially fueled with a biofuel mixture of coconut and babassu oil in one of its four main fuel tanks. The jet carried pilots and several technicians, but no passengers. The flight is another example of how the world’s airlines are jumping on the environmental bandwagon by trying to find ways of reducing aviation’s carbon footprint. These efforts have included finding alternative jet fuels, developing engines that burn existing fuels more slowly, and changing the way planes land.

Aircraft engines cause noise pollution and emit gases and particulates that reduce air quality and contribute to environmental pollution. Using coconut oil as a jet and diesel fuel can help keep our planet clean.