A strong correlation between the HCN, carbon monoxide (CO) and acetonitrile (CH3CN) was observed, indicating the potential of HCN as a biomass burning (BB) marker. A plume was defined as being 6 standard deviations above background for the flights. This method was compared with a number of alternative plume-defining techniques employing CO and CH3CN measurements. The 6-sigma technique produced the highest R2 values for correlations with CO. A normalised excess mixing ratio (NEMR) of 3.68 ± 0.149 pptv ppbv−1 was calculated, which is within the range quoted in previous research (Hornbrook et al., 2011). The global tropospheric model STOCHEM-CRI incorporated both the observed ratio and extreme ratios derived from other studies to generate global emission totals of HCN via biomass burning. Using the ratio derived from this work, the emission total for HCN from BB was 0.92 Tg (N) yr−1.