The National Research Council of Canada joins partners to investigate aircraft contrails from biofuel blends


- Paris, France 

The NRC T-33 measures the ice particle number and size in a persistent contrail from an Air Canada A320 during GARDN project CAAFCER.

After conducting the world's first civil jet flight powered by 100 percent biofuel in 2012, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is continuing to advance sustainable aviation by undertaking a project that will help understand biofuel attributes and their overall environmental impact. Working with partners in the Civil Aviation Alternate Fuel Contrail and Emissions Research (CAAFCER) project, the NRC recently gathered data to test the environmental benefits of biofuel use in commercial flights.

The testing used advanced sensing equipment mounted on the NRC's T-33 research jet to measure the impact of biofuel blend on contrail formation from an aircraft in commercial operation. The tests were done on flights between Montreal and Toronto with the NRC's research jet trailing Air Canada's aircraft to sample and test the biofuel contrails and emissions. The T-33 flight measurements will be compared with baseline Jet A1 emissions and contrail measurements from similar aircraft that flew in adjacent time periods, in similar atmospheric conditions.


The T-33 High Altitude Atmospheric Research (HAARC) jet, highlighting the port wing pod with isokinetic probe and LII300 black carbon sensor for measuring the emitted soot content of a contrail.

"The NRC is proud to collaborate with our Canadian and international partners on this important research that will further reveal the viability of biofuels. By using our unique T-33 research aircraft to follow Air Canada jets and measure contrail ice particles and emissions concentrations at high sampling rates, we have collected data that will be analysed to further understand the diverse sustainability attributes of biojet fuels," said Jerzy Komorowski, General Manager, Aerospace at the NRC.

Aviation contrails contribute to climate change through the action of radiative forcing, entrapping solar heat energy. A reduction in contrail thickness and coverage could reduce aviation's impact on the environment, an important beneficial effect of sustainable biofuel usage in aviation. The results of this study are expected to be published in late 2017 or early 2018.

Partner organizations of the CAAFCER project include Air Canada, the Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN), the Waterfall Group, Boeing, SkyNRG, and the University of Alberta.

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