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United first airline, LAX first airport in U.S. to use commercial biofuels

Staff writer |
United Airlines and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) are the first airline and airport in the nation to use biofuels on a commercial scale.

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The launch marks a milestone in the commercial aviation industry by moving beyond demonstration flights and test programs to the use of advanced biofuels for United’s ongoing operations.

LAX will be the first airport in the U.S. – and the second globally, after Oslo Airport Gardermoen in Norway – with commercial flights using biofuels.

United has agreed to purchase up to 15 million gallons of the sustainable biofuel over a three-year period from Paramount-based AltAir Fuels, a refiner of environmentally sustainable feedstocks to produce jet and diesel fuels.

To highlight this achievement, United will operate flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco with the dedicated use of AltAir renewable fuel for two weeks, while integrating this fuel into its regular operations at the airport, where it will be dispensed through United’s pipe-and-hydrant system.

After a few weeks, the biofuel deliveries will be blended into the general LAX fuel supply and used across all flights out of LAX.

AltAir’s biofuels meet the same stringent international fuel certification as conventional jet fuel and the Federal Aviation Administration has approved its use.

It is considered a “drop in” fuel, so no infrastructure or aircraft engine modifications are needed.

The biofuel is refined from feedstock, such as agricultural wastes and/or non-edible natural oils, into low-carbon advanced biofuels through a process pioneered by Honeywell UOP.

Current biofuels are less dense than traditional fossil fuels and must be blended to meet current aviation fuel standards. The AltAir fuel is blended at 30 percent biofuel and 70 percent traditional fuel.

United has operated at LAX since 1946, when United was among five airlines to begin commercial operations at LAX. In addition to its sustainability efforts in biofuels, United reports 70 percent of its ground equipment at LAX is powered by electricity.

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