A Qantas Boeing 787-9 has flown a transpacific flight using a biofuel blend, landing in Melbourne Jan. 30 after a 15 hour flight from Los Angeles. The General Electric GEnx-powered flight used a 10% blend of biofuel made from carinata.

A non-food type of mustard seed, the carinata was developed by Canadian agricultural-technology company Agrisoma Biosciences. Under a partnership announced in 2017, the company is working with Australian farmers to grow the country’s first seed crop for commercial aviation biofuel by 2020.

The carinata was processed into jet fuel by AltAir Fuels in Paramount, California, using Honeywell UOP’s process for producing HEFA (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) biofuel, which is approved for use in aircraft up to a 50% blend with conventional jet fuel.

AltAir is already using UOP’s process to produce biofuel for United Airlines under a three-year, 15 million gallon offtake agreement that saw the fuel being used in regular scheduled flights from Los Angeles LAX beginning in March 2016. The biofuel for United is made from tallow.

Carinata requires no specialized production or processing techniques, Qantas said. It is water efficient and sown in either fallow areas where food crops fail or in between regular crop cycles. As a rotational crop, it can improve soil quality, reduce erosion and provide farmers with additional income.

Field trials by the University of Queensland in Gatton, Queensland, and in Bordertown, South Australia, have demonstrated carinata should do well in the Australian climate, the airline said. In the US, Agrisoma is working the University of Florida to commercialize carinata to produce jet fuel.

Graham Warwick, graham.warwick@aviationweek.com