Republic Day flypast: Two Dornier IAF aircraft to fly on sustainable aviation fuel

During the Republic Day flypast, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to showcase a historic ‘Tangail formation’ with two Dornier aircraft, commemorating a successful military strategy during the 1971 war against Pakistan. The unique aspect is the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) produced by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), underlining the IAF’s commitment to eco-friendly practices and alignment with the global goal of achieving net-zero aviation by 2050, reported The Hindu Bussinessline.

As per news report, IAF Wing Commander Manish Sharma stated that alongside the Dornier aircraft, a Dakota vintage aircraft would join the formation, recreating the airdrop of December 11, 1971, in the Tangail area (now Bangladesh). This operation was considered groundbreaking in military history.

The IIP, based in Dehradun, proposed the use of SAF to the IAF, which involves blending 10% hydrotreated esters and fatty acids (HEFA)–based alternative fuel into regular commercial jet A1 fuel. This initiative aims to promote reliance on less carbon-emitting energy sources. This marks the IAF’s second venture into SAF, following the 2019 participation of the AN-32 transport carrier in the flypast using HEFA fuel.

The SAF project began in 2018 when the IAF commissioned the IIP to blend 8,700 liters of alternative fuel for test flights. From 2019 to 2022, the IIP supplied HEFA-blended SAF to the IAF, with AN-32s completing 65 hours and Dornier aircraft 25 hours of sorties using climate-friendly energy. The IIP anticipates further projects from the IAF and Indian Army Aviation, as HEFA is deemed more suitable for military and civilian air platforms.

In a significant development, the IIP is exploring commercial production of SAF, with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) considering a dedicated refinery in Mangaluru. This aligns with the government’s objective of phasing out commercial jet A1 to combat air pollution. The IIP is also seeking international certification for global sales.


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