IAF to fly bio-fuel powered An-32 aircraft during Republic Day flypast
18 December 2018
The Indian Air Force (IAF) took a major step towards using biofuel to power an aircraft with plans to fly a biofuel-powered AN-32 transport aircraft over New Delhi during the Republic Day parade.
On 17 December 2018, Experimental Test Pilots and Test Engineer from IAF’s premier testing establishment ASTE, flew India’s first military flight using blended bio-jet fuel on the An-32 transport aircraft. The project is a combined effort of IAF, DRDO, Directorate General Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA) and CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum.
On 27 July 2018, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, Chief of Air Staff had announced IAF’s intention to promote biojet fuels. Addressing the CII-SIDM seminar on promoting indigenised technologies, the CAS had stated that IAF intended to fly the An-32 with 10 per cent biojet fuel on 26 January 2019 Republic Day flypast.
Indian Air Force carried out extensive engine tests on the ground and the project has now entered the flight trials phase. This is now followed by flight trials using 10 per cent biojet blended ATF.
The fuel is made from Jatropha oil sourced from Chattisgarh Biodiesel Development Authority (CBDA) and then processed at CSIR-IIP, Dehradun. IAF intends to fly the An-32 transport aircraft using biojet fuel on 26 January 2019, in the Republic Day flypast.
The An-32 is not the first IAF aircraft to fly with bio fuel. In 2011, the US Air Force (USAF) announced that the C-17 Globemaster III — which the IAF also operates — was certified for unlimited use of hydro-processed blended biofuels, known as hydro-treated renewable jet fuels.
In 2010, the USAF had flown a fighter aircraft powered with bio fuel.
Last August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that bio fuels and ethanol blending could help India save $1.7 billion a year on import bills and called for more support to biofuels in the country.