Virgin Tests First Biofuel Plane

Jet flies on coconuts and babassu nuts
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Feb 24, 2008 12:35 PM CST
Jim McNerney, chairman and chief executive of Boeing Co., right, looks over at Virgin Atlantic Chairman Richard Branson as it was announced Tuesday, April 24, 2007, in Chicago that Virgin Atlantic had...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A Virgin Atlantic jet powered partially by a coconut- and Brazilian babassu nut-based biofuel made it from London to Amsterdam today in the first commercial flight to do so, the BBC reports. Virgin topdog Richard Branson hailed the flight as "pioneering" in the development of "fuels of the future," but environmentalists denounced the experiment as a publicity stunt.

The Boeing 747 wasn't carrying passengers and three of four engines were filled with conventional fuel in case of emergency, but Virgin hopes to run on plant-based fuels within 10 years. But green experts say biofuels will only further damage the environment: "What we need to do is stop to the mad expansion of aviation," said one activist.