Airplane maker Airbus has joined a consortium, which includes Virgin Australia, to study ways to produce sustainable aviation fuels from eucalyptus trees.
The consortium, which also includes the Future Farm Industries CRC, is aimed at developing an alternative fuel pilot plant in Australia within the next year.
Future Farm Industries is developing farming systems as part of the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) programme.
Virgin Australia operations executive, Sean Donohue, said: "In order to produce a biofuel that can be used sustainably in our current aircraft, it is important to have members from every part of the supply chain involved."
"Airbus will bring vast expertise in aircraft manufacturing to the consortium and we are very pleased to have a company of its calibre joining this promising Australian project," Donohue said.
The overall effort of the consortium is to focus on a thermal conversion process known as Pyrolysis that would refine feedstock from eucalyptus mallee trees, which are grown in Western Australia, into aviation biofuel.
The project's objective is to develop an aviation biofuel production capability in the country through sustainable resources and is part of the Airbus aim to have a value chain in every continent by 2012.
The sustainability analysis will be managed by the CRC, Airbus and the UK's Manchester Metropolitan University.
The aircraft maker has similar biofuel initiatives in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.
Airbus' role in the project is to support the approval and certification process of the project for using the Pyrolysis-based fuels in commercial aviation sector.
Image: Airbus has joined Virgin Australia in development of a new alternative aviation fuel. Photo: Airbus