The An-32 twin-engine military aircraft, flying on a 10% biofuel blend successfully landed at Leh, bordering arch-rival China on Friday.
Leh, at the altitude of 3,524 metres above sea levels, is a strategically important airfield, located just 250 km from the China border.
Last year, IAF’s formidable workhorse the AN-32 aircraft was formally fleet certified to fly on blended aviation fuel containing up to 10% of indigenous bio-jet fuel.
Before landing in the Himalayan region, the IAF had undertaken a series of evaluation tests and trials with this green aviation fuel for the last two years. The IAF had claimed in the past, that the scope of these checks was in “consonance with international aviation standards”.
The bio-jet fuel used in the jet was first produced by the government-funded CSIR-IIP lab at Dehradun in 2013. The lab will produce the biofuel from Tree Borne Oils (TBOs) sourced from tribal areas and farmers.
In July 2018, the then IAF chief BS Dhanoa had formally announced IAF’s intention to permit the use of all its resources for testing and certifying the indigenous fuel.
“In a step to lower import fuel costs by the use of biofuels and ethanol-blended fuels, the Indian Air Force will start using biofuels to fly its transport aircraft,” the air force chief had announced.
It is estimated that the IAF consumes about one billion litres of ATF to power its varied fleet.