New Delhi: In a first, an IAF AN-32 aircraft powered with 10 per cent blend of Indian bio-fuel conducted flight operations at one of the highest airports in the world in Leh's Kushok, according to an official statement.
Bio-jet fuel is produced from non-edible "tree borne oils", grown and procured from the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, it said.
IAF's efforts would assist in reducing carbon footprint and India's dependence on crude imports, the statement said.
"On 31 January, 2020... an AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force, powered with a 10 per cent blend of Indian bio-jet fuel took-off from Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, Leh," it said.
"This is the first time that both engines of the aircraft were powered by the bio-jet indigenous fuel. The aircraft was flight tested and its performance was validated at the Chandigarh Air Base prior to undertaking the operational flight to Leh," said the government statement.
The tests were conducted by a team comprising of test pilots from the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment, Bengaluru, and operational squadrons, it said.
Leh at an altitude of 10,682 ft above mean sea level, is among the world's highest and most difficult operational airfield. It is prone to extreme weather conditions, it added.
"Even during clear weather conditions, landing and taking-off an aircraft at Leh, is challenging due to reduced power output of the aircraft engines in the rarefied atmosphere, 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 noted.
"It validates the capability of the aero-engine to operate smoothly with bio-jet fuel at the extremities of the operational envelope," it said.