by Fiona Robertson
Biodiesel firm Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation has appointed an aviation engineer to a new consulting position, lending weight to speculation that the company’s algae-based fuel will power Air New Zealand’s biofuel test flight.
Des Ashton runs his own Blenheim-based aviation consultancy, Ashton Technologies, and was previously chief executive of Port Marlborough.
His role will be as a consultant to lead operational development, in particular aviation projects.
The first biofuel-powered plane trip was made just last month by a Virgin aeroplane using nut-derived fuel.
At the time, Virgin boss Richard Branson told media that Air New Zealand would be the first airline to trial a “next-generation” algae-based fuel later this year.
Nelson-based Aquaflow has developed its biofuel from sewage algae and has already test-driven its fuel in land vehicles.
Air New Zealand is partnering with Boeing and Rolls Royce in its biofuel project, though it has not confirmed what fuel will be used.