By Bill Sanderson, New York Post
Come fly the fatty skies.
New Yorkers for the first time can take a commercial flight from Kennedy Airport to Amsterdam on a jumbo jet fueled by the same grease that makes french fries and chicken wings.
Dutch airline KLM announced its eco-friendly technology at JFK yesterday before completing the first of 25 round trips between the Big Apple and the land of windmills.
“I was with the guy fueling the plane this morning, and he said it smelled like fries,” KLM executive Camiel Eurlings, a former Dutch transportation minister, said yesterday at the airport.
The Boeing 777s are fueled by a blend of 25 percent cooking oil and 75 percent jet fuel.
“It’s indistinguishable on a molecular level” from regular kerosene jet fuel, said Capt. Rick Shouten, 48, who piloted the fat-fueled jet, which carries 318 passengers.
“For the pilots, it was totally transparent. It’s as if you’re flying a normal aircraft,” said Shouten, a KLM pilot for 25 years.
The oil for the flight comes from Louisiana.
Waste oil left over from frying up crawfish, cracklins, catfish and other Cajun treats is refined at a plant near Baton Rouge and then trucked to JFK Airport so it can help spin the giant KLM engines.
A similar operation — powered by oil from European restaurants and food plants — operates on the other side of the Atlantic.
“We came here on used cooking fat. The first question when we landed was, ‘Was it smelly?’ No, it wasn’t smelly,” laughed Jos Nijhuis, president of the Schiphol Group, a Dutch firm investing in the KLM flight series.
The cooking-oil fuel works just like regular jet fuel and doesn’t require any special handling by airline flight and maintenance crews.
Last night’s run to Amsterdam will be followed by 24 round trips every Thursday for the next six months.
It’s the first time biofuels will be used on a regular schedule on trans-Atlantic flights.
KLM, a biofuel pioneer, has been using cooking-oil-based fuel on passenger flights in Europe since September 2011.
Biofuels are expensive. KLM says the cooking-oil-based fuel it used yesterday costs about $10 per gallon, roughly three times the price of regular jet fuel.
But the airline industry hopes the price will come down as biofuel use spreads.
KLM said the cooking-oil flights reduce carbon emissions by up to 80 percent because of a combination of the cleaner fuel and the pilots taking better advantage of wind direction with the angle of flight.
Over the last five years, airlines have also been experimenting with biofuels made from algae and crops like camelina, an oily plant from the mustard family.
But it’s going to be a while before oil left over from New Yorkers’ eggrolls or deep-fried falafel is powering planes.
New York eateries produce 40 million to 50 million gallons of waste cooking oil each year — but it is mostly used to power diesel trucks or mixed with home heating fuel, said Dehran Duckworth of Tri-State Biodiesel.