A Qatar Airways aircraft has completed the world's first commercial passenger flight powered by a fuel made from natural gas.
The historic journey from London Gatwick to Doha took over six hours and was operated with an Airbus A340-600 aircraft using Rolls-Royce Trent 556 engines.
Shell developed and produced the 50-50 blend of synthetic gas to liquids (GTL) kerosene and conventional oil-based kerosene fuel. The State of Qatar is set to become the world's leading producer of GTL kerosene when it is put into commercial production from 2012.
The fuel, as an alternative to conventional oil-based kerosene, will contribute to diversification of aviation fuel supply. It also burns with lower sulphur dioxide and particulate emissions than pure conventional oil-based kerosene, making it attractive for improving local air quality at busy airports.
The blend of conventional kerosene and GTL kerosene will be known as GTL jet fuel. The flight was the latest step in over two years of scientific work carried out by a consortium consisting of Airbus, Qatar Airways, Qatar Petroleum, Qatar Science & Technology Park, Rolls-Royce, Shell and WOQOD into the benefits of using GTL jet fuel to power commercial aircraft. Much of this work is being undertaken at the Qatar Science & Technology Park in Doha.
"Qatar's position as the GTL capital of the world has been further enhanced with today's achievement. GTL technology enables us to produce liquid fuels and other products from natural gas. Commercial aviation is one of the exciting new markets that this opens up, helping us maximise the value from our natural resources," said Abdulla bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, deputy prime minister and minister of energy and industry of the State of Qatar.