In A First, IAF’s An-32 Aircraft Powered With Indigenous Bio-Jet Fuel Takes-Off From Leh AirfieldAn IAF Antonov An-32B at the Leh Airbase. (Toprohan/Wikipedia)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday (31 January) achieved a major milestone when an AN-32 aircraft of the IAF powered by indigenous blend of 10 per cent bio-jet fuel took off from Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh, a Ministry of Defence statement said.

According to the statement, this was the first time that both engines of the aircraft were powered by the bio-jet indigenous fuel.

The tests were conducted by a team comprising of test pilots from the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment, Bengaluru and pilots from the operational squadrons, the statement said.

Located at an altitude of 10,862 feet above sea level, Leh is amongst one of the world’s highest and most difficult operational airfield as it is prone to extreme weather conditions.

Landing and taking-off an aircraft at Leh, even during clear weather conditions, is a challenging feat due to reduced power output of the aircraft engines in the rarefied atmoshpere, turbulent wind conditions and proximity of mountainous terrain, the statement said.

Evaluating the performance of bio-jet fuel under these conditions is important from operational perspectives. It validates the capability of the aero-engine to operate smoothly with bio-jet fuel at the extremities of the operational envelope, it added.

“This successful test flight also demonstrates IAF’s capabilities to absorb newer technology, while sponsoring indigenisation,” the statement said.

The technology to produce this fuel was developed by CSIR-IIP in 2013, but could not be tested and certified for commercial use due to lack of concurrent aviation test facilities in the country.

“In 2018, the IAF sponsored this project and channelized its human and material resources for the complete range of fuel testing,” the statement said.

Bio-jet fuel is produced from non-edible ‘Tree Borne Oils’, grown and procured from the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh state.

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