Airbus and Chinese oil company Sinopec (IW 1000/322) have teamed up to develop an alternative fuel standard and supply for China, one of the fastest-growing aviation markets, the European plane maker said on Monday.

"China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), one of China's biggest energy companies, and Airbus are developing and promoting renewable aviation fuel production for regular commercial use in China," a statement said.

"Sinopec is the instrumental partner in helping the central government to establish a Chinese airworthiness certification for alternative aviation fuels made from locally grown feedstocks," Airbus noted.

Sinopec is to develop the fuel with its own technology at a plant recently built in Hangzhou, near Shanghai.

"The refinery is one of the few in the world that has the capacity to produce aviation fuel from biomass in large-scale," Airbus said.

The company did not say when output would begin, but a spokeswoman told AFP it would likely take "about a year."

"We are in the process of selecting the raw material, the biomass that would come 100% from China and which would be sustainable. Once the analysis of the sustainability and certification is over, we will launch production," she said.

Frederic Eychenne, who is in charge of renewable energies at Airbus, said that one of the selection criteria is that there must be "absolutely no competition" with food crops or agricultural produce that needs to be cultivated with resources such as water or land.

Among the possibilities are agricultural waste such as straw or agricultural derivations that are not directly cultivated. The company is also looking at harnessing used oil.

Airbus is already involved in similar projects worldwide but China represents a major step forward because it is one of the fastest-growing air transport markets.

In early September, Airbus forecast that global plane manufacturers would deliver around 28,200 aircraft from 2012-2031, with about 35% expected to be ordered from Asian airlines.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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