• Gennette Cordova

IAF flies indigenous biofuel powered aircraft

For the first time, the Indian Air Force (IAF) successfully operated an aircraft with both engines powered by an aviation turbine fuel with a 10% blend of indigenously developed biofuel, according to an official statement.

The Antonov AN-32 transport aircraft, first flight tested at the Chandigarh Air Base, took off from the 3,255-mile high Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport (IXL) on Jan. 31. At an altitude of more than 10,000 feet above sea level, the airport is located in the Himalayan city of Leh, one of the highest and among the most difficult operational airfields in the world.

"Even during clear weather conditions, landing and taking off an aircraft at Leh is challenging, due to reduced power output of the aircraft engines in the rarefied atmosphere, turbulent wind conditions and proximity of mountainous terrain," the IAF statement said.

The Indian government emphasized that the successful flight demonstrated their sponsorship of sustainability as well as indigenization. The drop-in biofuel was produced from nonedible, tree-borne oils grown in the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, a resource-rich state in the central-eastern region of the country. Sustainability pursuits such as these would help India in their stated goal of reducing their dependence on crude imports.

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