Emirates Successfully Tests Flying Boeing 777 Plane on Sustainable Jet Fuel
The airline Emirates has successfully tested flying a Boeing 777-300ER airplane with one of its two engines using sustainable fuel. The flight flew from Dubai International Airport along the United Arab Emirates coastline for about an hour.
According to the airline, the demonstration flight, commanded by Captain Fali Vajifdar and Captain Khalid Nasser Akram, is part of the aviation industry’s larger goal to reduce carbon emissions. The demonstration could also help future certification to approve 100% drop-in sustainable aviation fuel, which is currently available for all aircrafts to use but only in 50% blends with conventional jet fuel.
Emirates and partners GE Aerospace, Boeing, Honeywell, Neste and Virent created the fuel blend. The sustainable aviation fuel blend included hydro processed esters and fatty acids and synthetic paraffinic kerosene (HEFA-SPK) from Finnish firm Neste and hydro deoxygenated synthetic aromatic kerosene (HDO-SAK) from Wisconsin-based Virent. The plane’s second engine was fueled with conventional aviation fuel as a safety precaution, The Associated Press reported.
“Virent’s technology converts widely available, plant-based sugars into the compounds that make 100% sustainable aviation fuel possible, without the need to blend with traditional jet fuel,” Dave Kettner, president and general counsel of Virent, Inc., said in a statement.
Neste’s fuel is derived from vegetable oils and animal fats. Together, with Virent’s fuel blend, the fuels reduce the carbon emissions released from engines during flight.
The flight is the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, where it was the first flight to be powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel in an engine. Emirates’ first flight using a sustainable aviation fuel blend was in 2017 from Chicago, also on a Boeing 777 aircraft, as reported by Business Traveller.
While aircraft and engine manufacturers have been redesigning models to be more fuel-efficient, there is still a push for more sustainable fuel. But sustainable aviation fuel is more expensive than conventional fuel.
“We hope that landmark demonstrations flights like this one, will help open the door to scale up the SAF supply chain and make it more available and accessible across geographies, and most importantly, affordable for broader industry adoption in the future,” said Adel Al Redha, chief operating officer of Emirates Airline.
Scaling up sustainable aviation fuel and making it more affordable could further help the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and industry commitment of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Sustainable aviation fuel plays a crucial role in reducing the emissions of air travel but to fully leverage its decarbonization potential we need to enable 100% SAF use,” said Jonathan Wood, vice president of EMEA, Renewable Aviation at Neste. “Test flights like this Emirates flight with Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel are an important step towards 100% SAF certification.”