last October, the alternative fuels industry has been buzzing about the BioJet,
a 40-year-old Delfin L-29 that made the world's first jet flight running on 100
percent biodiesel fuel. Green Flight International, the organization behind
BioJet, has confirmed it will bring the aircraft to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008
and show its new technological breakthrough at the World's Greatest Aviation
Celebration, July 28-August 3.
"We will be coming to Oshkosh with the
L-29," said Doug Rodante, founder of Green Flight International,
headquartered in Apopka, Florida, which owns the L-29. Plans are to display the
plane on the AirVenture central showcase ramp, AeroShell Square.
"EAA AirVenture has always been a showcase
for innovation and ingenuity by individual EAA members and the aviation
industry," said Tom Poberezny, EAA president and AirVenture chairman.
"We look forward to welcoming the BioJet and learning more about the
technology that it has been introducing."
The Czechoslovakian military aircraft made the
historic flight on October 2 at the Reno-Stead Airport in Nevada, with a fuel
made from vegetable oil. Because this aircraft type is rated to fly on a
variety of fuels from JP-4 and JP-8 to heating oil, it is the preferred
platform for testing biodiesel in jet engines. Biodiesel Solutions, a company
headquartered in Sparks, Nevada, produced the fuel from restaurant waste oil.
Before it flew on pure biodiesel, experimental
test flights used a jet fuel and biodiesel blend. After engine data and
performance showed the mix was acceptable for continued use, the biodiesel was
increased gradually, resulting in the landmark flight using 100 percent
Pilot Carol Sugars said at the time, "As we gradually increased the amount
of biodiesel in the fuel blend, the data confirmed that the aircraft continued
to perform well, giving me the confidence to transition to 100 percent
biodiesel." Flight tests were conducted up to an altitude of 17,000 feet
and there was no significant difference in performance compared to conventional
jet fuel, she added.
Green Flight is in the process of obtaining
necessary clearance from the FAA to make cross-country flights on biodiesel
fuel. To that end, the L-29's engine has gone through an exhaustive inspection
since October's groundbreaking flight.
"So far everything is going well and
according to plan," Rodante said. "We're also experimenting with
different feed stocks. What we originally used was recycled vegetable oil,
which has quite an aromatic quality and caused quite a bit of soot buildup in
the turbine, fuel nozzles and the burner can. We think we can eliminate that
Rodante formed Green Flight International in
April 2006 to create a platform for future development in the use of
environmentally friendly fuels in aviation and elsewhere. "It is
imperative that the global community take immediate steps to reduce our carbon
footprint, because we can no longer afford to wait while our environment
continues to degrade," he said. "By implementing even a small amount
of bio-degradable fuel in our transportation system we can significantly reduce
the CO2 (greenhouse gasses) and NOx (the precursor to smog) that contribute to