New Delhi: An Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft, A-32, successfully took off from Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh on January 31 using 10 per cent blend of Indian bio-jet fuel.

The fuel was developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIIR-IIP) in 2013 and certified for commercial use. But due to lack of concurrent aviation test facilities in the country it was not tested. Later, in 2018, IAF sponsored this project and channelled its resources to test the bio-fuel.

This is the first time that both engines of the aircraft were powered by the bio-jet indigenous fuel. The test was conducted by a team of pilots from Aircrafts and Systems Testing Establishment in Bengaluru. Pilots from operational squadron were also part of the test.

The Leh launchpad was chosen for the test launch as it is one the highest airfield at an altitude of 10,682 feet above the sea level. Even during normal weather conditions landing and take–off from Leh is difficult, said an IAF officer. They decided to conduct the test under these conditions to understand the operational capacity of the bio-fuel and check the performance of the aero-engine.

The bio-jet fuels used during the test are made of non-edible tree borne oils grown and produced in the tribal areas of Chattisgarh. The aircraft had earlier been tested in Chattisgarh and its performance validated prior to the Leh test launch.

Friday’s successful test demonstrates IAF’s capabilities to absorb new technology and also promote use of indigenous products. The IAF said using bio-fuel is an effort towards reducing carbon footprints and reduce India’s dependence on crude imports.

Aiswarya Sriram

Aiswarya Sriram is a budding multimedia journalist and is currently working for NewsMeter as a "Factcheck Freelancer". A graduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, Aiswarya has earlier worked with The Logical Indian and has interned with Republic TV. Aiswarya, a Tamilian who was born and brought up in Mumbai, loves to do rural reporting. She has visited Byadgi Taluk of Karnataka, to write about the issues faced by chilli factory workers there, earlier in 2019. A craft enthusiast, Aiswarya also does quilling, painting and glass work. On her off-days, she loves to read crime-thrillers and watch anime. She primarily reports on civic issues, GHMC, human-interesting features, and fact-checking video stories.

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