OK, OK, so the weed in question is actually the jatropha plant, a weed indigenous to India and Africa. But still! Air New Zealand is planning to fill one of the four engines of a 747 with the weed and the remaining three engines with normal jet fuel to test the potential of using jatropha as a biofuel.
It's a clear sign of the desperations airlines are feeling with the prices of jet fuel rising to, ahem, stratospheric levels. With jatropha costing 20-30% less than fuel, it looks like an attractive alternative. It's not derived from a food source like ethanol is, which is a big plus for Air NZ. It's also a hearty plant that can cope with poor soil and a lack of water, making it easy to come by. You know, because it's a weed. What did you think the headline meant? [FlightGlobal; Thanks Jason!]