Indonesia, the world’s largest producer of palm oil, has successfully completed its first commercial flight using palm oil-blended jet fuel. This landmark flight, operated by the national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, flew from Jakarta to Surakarta city, covering approximately 550 kilometers.

The Boeing 737-800NG aircraft, carrying over 100 passengers, is part of Indonesia’s broader initiative to promote the use of biofuels, aiming to reduce fuel imports and cut carbon emissions. Garuda Indonesia has been actively involved in testing this new fuel, including flight tests and engine ground tests, to ensure its viability and safety.

This innovative fuel is produced by the state energy firm PT Pertamina at its Cilacap refinery, utilizing hydroprocessed esters and fatty acid (HEFA) technology. It’s made from refined, bleached, and deodorized palm kernel oil. Pertamina has highlighted the environmental benefits of this palm-based fuel, noting its lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional fossil fuels.

In 2021, Pertamina achieved a milestone by successfully producing 2.0 Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) using co-processing technology. This development aligns with global efforts in the aviation industry to reduce its carbon footprint through alternative fuels. Experts estimate that by 2050, the industry will require 450 billion liters of SAF annually to meet net-zero targets.

Indonesia’s commitment to sustainable aviation is evident in its mandate for a 3% biofuel blend in jet fuel by 2020, although the implementation has seen delays. The success of this commercial flight using palm oil-blended jet fuel marks a significant step forward in the country’s journey towards sustainable aviation, balancing environmental responsibilities with industrial innovation.