On 24 May, the formidable workhorse of Indian Air Force (IAF), the Russian made AN-32 aircraft was formally fleet certified to fly on blended aviation fuel containing up to 10% of indigenous bio-jet fuel. The approval certificate was received at the aero-engine test facilities at Chandigarh by Air Commodore Sanjiv Ghuratia VSM, Air Officer Commanding, 3 BRD, AF on behalf of the IAF from Mr P Jayapal, Chief Executive CEMILAC.
The IAF has undertaken a series of evaluation tests and trials with this green aviation fuel for the last one year. The scope of these checks was in consonance with the international aviation standards. Today’s approval is an acknowledgement of the meticulous testing using the indigenous bio-jet fuel by the IAF.
The indigenous bio-jet fuel was first produced by the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP) lab at Dehradun in 2013, but could not be tested or certified for commercial use on aircraft due to lack of test facilities in the civil aviation sector.
Last December, Aircraft & System Testing Establishment (ASTE) a unit of the Indian Air Force (IAF) that evaluates aircraft and systems for induction into IAF, 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-IIP.
On 27 July, 2018, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa PVSM AVSM YSM VM ADC had formally announced IAF’s intention to permit the use of all its resources for testing and certifying the indigenous fuel. Since then, IAF’s flight test crew and engineers have been evaluating the performance of this fuel against international standards. This is a huge step in promoting the ‘Make in India’ mission as this bio-fuel would be produced from Tree Borne Oils (TBOs) sourced from tribal areas and farmers, augmenting their income substantially.
The bio-jet blended ATF (aviation turbine fuel) is made from Jatropha oil produced from seeds of Jatropha plant, which is sourced from the Chhattisgarh biodiesel development authority(CBDA) and then processed at CSIR-IIP, Dehradun.
In terms of technological approach, bio-jet fuel making involves a hydrocracking process with non-precious metal based catalyst developed inhouse at CSIR-IIP Dehrdun.