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Bill Boeing Jr Dies Aged 92It was announced today by Boeing that William E. Boeing Jr, the son of the company founder, William E Boeing Snr, has died at the age of 92.

Boeing Chairman and CEO, Jim McNerney paid tribute today and said, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Bill Boeing, Jr. Bill’s impact on the social and economic development of the Puget Sound has greatly benefited generations in the community.”

Seattle-born Boeing had his first aviation experience at five years old, riding in one of the Boeing 40 series aircraft, an early mail plane. He had a career in construction and built a hangar space at Boeing field, which became the home of Aero9 Copters, his helicopter company that he operated for nine years before moving into the broadcasting industry and keeping several radio stations for a number of years.

A long-term trustee of Museum of Flight in Seattle, William arranged for the Red Barn, the main building then used for the construction of the first Boeing aircraft, to be moved to the Museum, where it stands today.

Continuing, Mr McNerney said, “We are especially grateful for his efforts to preserve our largest home community’s history of aerospace innovation by helping secure and renew the legendary Red Barn, our first factory, a special place that he visited as a boy. Then, as a leading light in the creation and expansion of the Museum of Flight, he helped showcase our heritage and inspire generations to join in and further advance the science and business of aerospace. Bill continued his family’s great heritage with grace, energy and goodwill. As we cherish his memory, we will also continue to see his works through the institutions he left us and the people who were helped and inspired by his leadership.”

Eco-friendly Aviation Biofuel SolutionIn a fascinating development, Boeing have announced that they will be using South African farmed tobacco plants to make sustainable aviation biofuel in conjunction with South African Airways (SAA).

Project Solaris, named after the GMO-free tobacco plant, is a collaboration between the global aviation giant, SAA, SkyNRG and Sunchem SA in a joint effort to develop an aviation biofuel supply chain.

The first test crop is due to be harvested this month in Limpopo Province, where 50 hectares of Solaris plants have been planted. Once harvested, the oil from the seeds could become biofuel during the first quarter of 2015.

Ian Cruikshank, environmental affairs specialist from South African Airlines said, “SAA continues to work towards becoming the most environmentally sustainable airline in the world and is committed to a better way of conducting business”.

With a test flight planned as soon as practically possible, the airline have high hopes for the biofuel, whose future production is scaled at 400 million litres by 2023.

“The impact that the biofuel programme will have on South Africans is astounding: thousands of jobs, mostly in rural areas; new skills and technology; energy security and stability; and macro-economic benefits to South Africa; and, of course, a massive reduction in the amount of CO2 that is emitted into our atmosphere.”

In addition to these savings, the cost of operational productivity will be vastly improved for the SAA, who currently spend in the region of 40% on fuel.

Boeing International managing director for Africa, J Miguel Santos is clearly excited to see such early progress and said, “Boeing strongly believes that our aviation biofuel collaboration with South African Airways will benefit the environment and public health while providing new economic opportunities for South Africa’s small farmers. This project also positions our valued airline customer to gain a long-term, viable domestic fuel supply and improve South Africa’s national balance of payments”.

Aviation biofuel made from Solaris plants can massively impact carbon emissions, reducing them effectively by 50% to 75%. This ensures that the sustainable solution meets the threshold set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB).