The environment is a key focus at this year’s Paris Air Show. In particular, with oil prices heading ever higher, more alternative fuels are being tested.
A Boeing 747 cargo plane arrived at Le Bourget from Seattle on the US west coast having used, in all its four engines, a mixture of conventional fuel and 15 percent biofuel.
That was made from camelina, a plant that looks like a weed and is actually related to mustard and cabbage.
It can be used as a substitute for aviation fuel, without the plane’s engines needing to be modified.
The Air Transport Association of America is also looking at fuels made from algae and even industrial waste.
Robert Sturtz, Vice-Chairman of the ATA Energy Council, told euronews: “The beauty of renewable fuels is that there is the opportunity to use waste stream, even the waste stream of industrial plants. The carbon dioxide emitted by a number of large steel plants could very well be a source for jet fuel.”
Biofuels are starting to trickle into use by airlines – but further ahead there is the prospect of taking to the skies using pure light.
Solar Impulse, the Swiss solar plane created by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, arrived in Paris from Brussels powered only by the sun’s energy.
The aircraft is to tour the world in 2014: but will it remain an experiment or can the technology actually be used in the transport sector?
Bertrand Piccard is hopeful: “I think all the technology that is used in Solar Impulse could be very quickly adapted for use in cars and houses, for heating and lighting - if there is the political will to do that. It will take longer before such aircraft would be allowed to carry passengers.”
With the obvious exception of Solar Impulse, most of the latest aviation and defence hardware on display at Le Bourget needs fuel to function.
This year the show includes a special exhibition area for alternative aviation fuels, underlining that as well as protecting the environment this is also a big business opportunity.
Flying high, but on what fuel at the Paris Air Show?