A United Airlines jet took off from Denver International Airport on Friday morning powered with a natural-gas synthetic jet fuel, the first flight by a U.S. commercial airline using alternative fuel.
The test flight by the Airbus A319 was conducted using synthetic jet fuel produced by Rentech Inc. of Los Angeles, which has a plant in Commerce City.
A 4 0/60 mix of the synthetic fuel and conventional Jet A fuel was used in one of the Airbus’ two engines. After taking off at 8:15 a.m. at DIA, the jet climbed to 39,000 feet. An onboard team collected data on how the fuel performed during taxi, takeoff, climb, cruise, auxiliary power unit start, descent and approach.
The fuel’s performance and environmental benefits will be evaluated over the next 10 days, United officials said.
“This flight confirms our assumptions about how this fuel performs on a commercial aircraft and is the next step in our effort to stimulate competition in the aviation fuel supply chain, promote energy security, environmental benefits, and the creation of green jobs,” said Joseph Kolshak, United’s senior vice president of operations.
Last year, United and more than 15 other passenger and cargo carriers signed agreements intended as a framework for future supply agreements for certified synthetic jet fuel and jet fuel derived from camelina oil, a next-generation biofuel source.