Northwest aviation industry leaders â¿¿ including airport and aircraft operators and airplane builders â¿¿ have launched a project to free flight from petroleum. The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest project will attempt to develop Northwest sources of aviation biofuel, both to keep air traffic moving and to free the industry from dependence on fossil fuels. Members of the initiative include the international airports in Seattle, Spokane and Portland, as well as Seattle-based Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK); Boeing Commercial Airplanes, a division of Chicago-based Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA); and Washington State University, in Pullman. Members have been putting together the coalition for some months, as reported by Puget Sound Business Journal in June. While much of the transportation world is looking toward electricity to replace fossil fuels for transportation power, the aviation industry has been focusing on biofuels because they still pack much more energy per pounds carried aloft than any known battery technology. In addition, air carriers face increasing pressure to move away from fossil fuels due to climate change, especially in Europe. Higher fossil fuel costs, as well as the increasing velocity of high-speed electrically powered rail systems, are causing some passengers in China and Europe to move back to rail and away from air travel. Companies with freight to move also have been choosing lower-cost ground-based solutions over air cargo. A cost-effective source of aviation biofuel might help keep airlines competitive in these markets. The press release announcing the biofuel initiative is below: SEATTLE, July 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Alaska Airlines (NYSE:ALK), Boeing (NYSE:BA), Portland International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Spokane International Airport and Washington State University today announced a strategic initiative to promote aviation biofuel development in the Pacific Northwest. The first regional assessment of its kind in the United States, the â¿¿Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwestâ¿ project will look at biomass options within a four-state area as possible sources for creating renewable jet fuel.