Indonesia conducted its first commercial flight on Oct. 27 using palm oil-blended jet fuel, as the world's largest producer of the commodity pushes for wider use of biofuels to reduce fuel imports.
Operated by Garuda Indonesia, the Boeing 737-800NG aircraft carried over 100 passengers from the capital Jakarta to Surakarta city about 550 kilometers away, Garuda Indonesia CEO Irfan Setiaputra said.
"We will discuss further with Pertamina, Energy Ministry and other parties to ensure this fuel is commercially reasonable," he said during a ceremony.
Indonesia flew its first commercial flight using palm oil-blended jet fuel, as the world's biggest producer of the commodity pushes for wider use of biofuels to reduce fuel imports. (Photo: Pixabay)
The carrier conducted several tests including a flight test on the new fuel earlier this month and an engine ground test in August.
The palm-oil blended jet fuel is produced by the state energy firm PT Pertamina at its Cilacap refinery, using hydroprocessed esters and fatty acid (HEFA) technology and is made of refined bleached deodorized palm kernel oil.
The state-owned company has said the palm-based fuel emits less greenhouse gases compared with fossil fuels, and palm oil producing countries have called for the edible oil to be included in feedstock to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Oil palm fruits ready for processing. Indonesia is the world's largest producer of palm oil. (Photo: CIFOR)
Alfian Nasution, a director at Pertamina, said, "In 2021, Pertamina successfully produced 2.0 SAF in its Cilacap unit using co-processing technology and was made of refined bleached deodorized palm kernel oil with production capacity 1,350 kiloliters per day."
In the meantime, Harris Yahya, a director at Energy Ministry said the use of biofuel would lower the greenhouse effect. The aviation industry, a major emitter of greenhouse gases, is looking for ways to lower its carbon footprint by utilizing alternative fuels.
Experts point out that the industry will need 450 billion liters of SAF a year by 2050, if the fuel is to account for around 65% of the mitigation needed to achieve net-zero goals.
However, some countries have expressed concerns over the potential for deforestation in the production of palm oil from plantations. The European Union has imposed import restrictions on the commodity.
Indonesia government has mandated 3% biofuel blending by 2020 for jet fuel, but implementation has been postponed.