Air Canada and the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada are collaborating on a research project to test the environmental benefits of biofuel. Air Canada is supplying the aircraft and the NRC is supplying the emission-sniffing jet that is trailing the planes on their flights between Toronto and Montreal.
The NRC-led project is known as the Civil Aviation Alternate Fuel Contrail and Emissions Research project, and its goal is to measure the impact of biofuels on aircraft contrails — the trails of water vapour produced at high altitude through the interaction of hot engine exhaust with a cold atmosphere.
During the test period that began in late April 2017 and that is still underway, selected Air Canada flights between Toronto and Montreal, powered by biofuel produced by AltAir Fuels from used cooking oil, are being trailed by a modified CT-133 research jet, which samples and tests the contrail biofuel emissions.
Recent research led by NASA in the United States has found that biofuels can cut particle emissions from jet engines by 50% to 70%. A reduction in the thickness and coverage of contrails produced by the jet engines of aircraft could reduce aviation’s impact on the environment, an important beneficial effect of sustainable biofuel usage in aviation.