Indonesia Makes Aviation History with First Palm Oil-Blended Jet Fuel Commercial Flight

JAKARTA, Oct 27 – In a groundbreaking moment for the aviation industry, Indonesia took a significant step towards a greener future on Friday by conducting its first commercial flight using palm oil-blended jet fuel. As the world’s leading producer of palm oil, this innovative move is aimed at reducing fuel imports and advancing the use of sustainable biofuels.

The historic flight was operated by Indonesia’s flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, using a Boeing 737-800NG aircraft. With over 100 passengers on board, the flight journeyed from the capital, Jakarta, to Surakarta city, covering a distance of approximately 550 kilometers (342 miles), according to Garuda Indonesia CEO Irfan Setiaputra.

During a ceremony marking the occasion, Irfan Setiaputra shared, “We will discuss further with Pertamina, Energy Ministry, and other parties to ensure this fuel is commercially reasonable.” The plane is scheduled to return to Jakarta later the same day.

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The development of palm oil-blended jet fuel has been made possible by the Indonesian state energy firm, PT Pertamina, at its Cilacap refinery. This sustainable fuel is produced using hydroprocessed esters and fatty acid (HEFA) technology and is derived from refined bleached deodorized palm kernel oil.

Pertamina emphasizes that the use of this palm-based fuel results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fossil fuels. Furthermore, palm oil-producing countries have been advocating for its inclusion as feedstock for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production.

“In 2021, Pertamina successfully produced 2.0 SAF in its Cilacap unit using co-processing technology and was made of refined bleached deodorized palm kernel oil with a production capacity of 1,350 kiloliters per day,” noted Alfian Nasution, a director at Pertamina.

Harris Yahya, a director at the Energy Ministry, emphasized that the use of biofuel in aviation would contribute to reducing the greenhouse effect, aligning with global efforts to combat climate change.

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The aviation industry, known for its significant greenhouse gas emissions, is actively seeking ways to reduce its carbon footprint by transitioning to alternative and sustainable fuels. Experts estimate that the industry will require 450 billion liters of SAF per year by 2050 to achieve net-zero emissions targets.

However, concerns have been raised by some countries regarding potential deforestation linked to palm oil production, leading to import restrictions imposed by the European Union on the commodity.

It’s worth noting that Indonesia previously conducted a test flight in 2021 using the same palm oil-blended fuel, this time on an aircraft manufactured by state-owned Dirgantara Indonesia, flying from the city of Bandung in West Java to the capital, Jakarta.

While Indonesia had mandated a 3% biofuel blending target for jet fuel by 2020, the actual implementation has faced delays. This milestone commercial flight represents a significant stride toward a more sustainable future for aviation and the reduction of carbon emissions.


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