Air Canada makes America's first 'perfect flight'

Airbus and Air Canada yesterday made North America's first “perfect flight” as they combined the most efficient aircraft, biofuel and even lightweight cabin equipment to cut energy and carbon emissions to a minimum.

The commercial flight on an Airbus A319 from Toronto to Mexico City used a “state-of-the-art” aircraft, powered by sustainable fuels and guided by “streamlined” air-traffic control, Airbus said in an e-mailed statement.

Airlines won approval from the US technical standards body last July to fly passenger planes using a 50-50 blend of petroleum-based fuel and biofuel. In October, Airbus and Air France-KLM Group said they made the world's greenest commercial flight from Toulouse to Paris, using a cooking oil-based fuel, taking the shortest available route and applying a so-called continuous descent approach, cutting emissions in half.

“The aviation industry is in a strong position to reduce emissions and fly many more perfect flights,” Airbus Chief Executive Officer Fabrice Bregier said in the statement. “To make this a day-to-day commercial reality, it requires now a political will to foster incentives.”

The flight reduced carbon-dioxide output by an estimated 40 per cent compared with a regular flight, according to Toulouse-based Airbus. The aviation industry is aiming to cut emissions in half by 2050 from 2005 levels.

The Air Canada flight was part of a series of flights taking ICAO head Raymond Benjamin to the Rio+20 summit that sought to demonstrate cleaner, more environmentally-friendly ways of traveling.

Before taking off in Toronto, Benjamin boarded a Porter Airlines flight in Montreal that used a combination of biofuels and traditional jet fuel.

After Mexico City, he was then expected to board two more flights, first to Sao Paulo and then to Rio de Janeiro, also powered by alternative fuels.

With the prospect of oil prices staying high, biofuels are becoming a more attractive alternative for airlines seeking new ways to curb their fuel budgets.

Bloomberg/AFP

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