Aviation professionals gathered Thursday at the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys to hear about the benefits of alternative jet fuel.

The “Business Jets Fuel Green: A Step Toward Sustainability” event was attended by about 170 people. It marked the official launch of sustainable alternative jet fuels on the market, with Van Nuys the first general aviation airport in the U.S. to offer this fuel on a trial basis and providing a model for offering the fuel at other airports.

The event featured a panel discussion on alternative aviation fuels and media flights aboard business jets using the fuel. It was put on by several aviation organizations, including the National Business Aviation Association, the European Business Aviation Association and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

Sustainable alternative jet fuel describes non-petroleum-based fuel that gets mixed in with traditional fuels that can reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is made from cooking or plant oils, waste gases, sugars, biomass and agricultural residues, among other material.

The four fixed-base operators at the airport – Jet Aviation, Clay Lacy Aviation, Castle & Cooke Aviation and Signature Flight Support – took deliveries on Thursday of the sustainable alternative jet fuel.

Flora Margheritis, general manager of Van Nuys Airport, said having the event was a great step in the San Fernando Valley airfield’s environmental sustainability efforts.

“Los Angeles World Airports is always excited about any event that is focused on enhancing our environment, becoming greener and more sustainable,” Margheritis said. “We are all about that.”

Curt Castagna, president of the Van Nuys Airport Association which represents airport tenants, called the use of the fuel a natural evolution of other environmentally-friendly practices at the airport, including a recycling program and the use of solar panels.

“Picking Van Nuys as the place to kick that off is a strong message not only to the industry but shows the commitment to the city and the community of what the ultimate benefits can be environmentally from alternative fuels,” Castagna said.

Members of the panel included representatives from Bombardier Business Aircraft and Gulfstream, fuel producers Gevo Inc. and World Energy and supplier World Fuel Services Corp.

Ed Bolen, chief executive of the National Business Aviation Association, said that producing alternative jet fuels follows on decades of commitment to make aircraft more efficient.

“Sustainability is a part of the industry’s DNA, just like safety and security,” Bolen said.