Planes to fly on cooking oil

Two European airlines announce that they will add recycled cooking oil to their fuel mix. Do passengers want to know about that?

Is it fair to imagine that some people just don't want to know about how certain things are done? If they did, perhaps their irrational side might overwhelm the blinkered side that helps them get through each and every painful day.

Does everyone want to know, for example, that the Boeing 737 in which they are strapped is flying on the detritus of some very fine french fries?

In the last few days, KLM and Thomson Airways, two European airlines, announced that they would be flying a plane or two using cooking oil.

In KLM's case, the BBC reported that no fewer than 200 flights between Amsterdam and the home of cooking, Paris, will be powered by biokerosene. This fine fuel happens partly to emerge from the ashes of used frying oil.

Cooking oil, anyone? CC Wyzik/Flickr

Thomson announced this week that it would use the very same fuel--an even 50-50 mixture of Jet A1 fuel and hydro-processed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) on, according to the Telegraph, a flight from Birmingham, England, to Palma, Majorca.

Of course, the theory behind this fuel is that it will reduce carbon emissions. And experiments with such biofuels have been going on for some time. For example, Air New Zealand flew a 747 partly on old cooking oil back in 2008.

I know the more technically minded will throw their arms up in the air and raise their eyebrows beyond their tattooed foreheads when I suggest that not everyone might immediately want to know all this. Not everyone will feel comfortable that their plane is flying on gallons of old extra virgin that might have been used to saute carrots.

I fancy that those who already find flying a trying experience might not want to imagine that their plane has suddenly been co-opted into the food chain.

If airlines truly feel the need to advertise their green credentials, perhaps they should consider giving each of these cooked-up flights a cooking theme.

Perhaps they could serve food within them that has been prepared with the same cooking oil. Or perhaps they could at least release a pleasant cooking odor into the planes, so that nervous passengers can bathe in the smells of home cooking, while the leftovers are being used to fly the plane to Paris.

One should never underestimate humanity's ability to be afraid, nor its openness to suggestion.

 

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