Plane manufacturer Boeing has reached an agreement with Air New Zealand and engine maker Rolls-Royce to carry out a test flight using biofuel, an energy source derived purely from organic materials.

The trial is planned for the second half of 2008 on an Air New Zealand flight using a Boeing 747-400.

Discussions are ongoing between the plane maker and potential suppliers of a biofuel stock that is both sustainable and compliant with aviation requirements.

Craig Saddler, president of Boeing Australia, commented: "Our near-term goal in this pioneering effort is to identify sustainable alternative bio-jet fuel sources for the planes that are flying today.

"A significant first step is identifying progressive fuel sources that will provide better economic and environmental performance for air carriers, without any change to aircraft engines or the aviation fuel infrastructure."

Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe said that the test flight is "another step" in the company's plan to become the world's most environmentally responsible airline.

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Tony Hill Helen Gillilan

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(Tony Hill and Helen Gillilan)

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