Australia’s aviation sector is gradually stepping towards sustainable aviation fuel, thanks to the Virgin family. With the completion of a major biofuel trial at Brisbane Airport (BNE), Virgin Australia and its partners just became the first to supply renewable jet fuel into a commercial airport infrastructure in the country.

In what it called is an industry first, Virgin Australia announced on September 11, 2018, it successfully completed a major biofuel trial at the Brisbane Airport (BNE) in Queensland, Australia, proving that biofuel could be successfully delivered to aircraft through an airport’s general fuel supply system.

The story goes as this: during the trial, biofuel was blended with regular jet fuel and distributed through Brisbane Airport’s aircraft refueling infrastructure. All flights departing the airport during the trial period were fueled with the biofuel blend, or “biojet”. In total, the biofuel was used on 195 domestic and international flights, over a distance of more than 267,000 miles (430,000 km), the airline states.

According to Virgin, biojet “contributes to lower levels of carbon emissions compared to traditional fossil jet fuel on a life cycle basis”. The airline also said that biojet meets international quality and safety standards, and the fuel blend used at the Brisbane Airport had been extensively tested and recertified.

There is no stopping now

The company stated the Brisbane trial was the first time that sustainable aviation fuel had been delivered through the general fuel supply system at an Australian airport. And so the trial signifies an important step in readying the supply chain for the use of biofuels.

According to Virgin Australia, the project also made the Brisbane hub one of the few globally where such trials have been hosted. It is indeed just one of a handful of airports in the world to have had an extensive biofuel trial carried out at. Such projects are already being run at airports in Oslo, Norway, and Los Angeles, U.S., as Airwise points out.

But Virgin Australia is not stopping there – the airline has further tests planned in the near future.

Since there is no production of advanced sustainable aviation fuel in Australia, the biofuel used in the trial was produced in the U.S. However, as ATW Online writes, Virgin said that “there is potential” for these fuels to be produced in Australia, and one of the goals of the trials is to support the development of such an industry.

”Virgin Australia is leading the way in the production and use of sustainable aviation fuel in Australia,” the group’s executive Rob Sharp said in the company’s recent announcement. “We recognize that there is a great opportunity to develop a thriving sustainable fuels industry, which will help to reduce emissions and drive investment and jobs growth in Australia”.

The airline is now expecting more shipments of the biojet over the next 12-18 months, which will allow it to conduct another trial at the Brisbane Airport, an airline spokeswoman was quoted as saying by ATW Online. In fact, it is a two-year project that Virgin together with its partners announced in October 2017, Airline Ratings reports.

As for the company’s partners in the trial, Virgin Australia, launched in May 2011, worked with the Brisbane Airport Corporation, the U.S.-based renewable fuel producer Gevo and the Queensland Government. The trial was carried with supply chain operators Caltex Australia and Germany’s DB Schenker.