Emirates has completed a demonstration flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The Boeing 777 plane flew for more than an hour over Dubai’s coast last week, becoming the first such flight in the MENA region to be powered by SAF in one of two engines, the airline said.
Emirates worked with GE Aerospace, Boeing, Honeywell, Finnish biofuel producer Neste and Wisconsin-based renewable fuels company Virent to procure and develop a blend of SAF that closely replicates the properties of conventional jet fuel.
“The trial… sets a new milestone for the industry and Emirates airline,” said the company’s chief operating officer Adel Al Redha.
“It is definitely a step forward towards helping the environment. With this step, our aim is to provide an alternative fuel that will reduce carbon emissions and become more environmentally friendly.”
The airline’s engineering team is also holding talks with European plane maker Airbus about plans for a similar SAF-powered test flight using its flagship A380 double-decker this year, Al Redha added.
Emirates, the world’s largest operator of Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 aircraft, is aiming for SAF to make up half its total fuel supply by 2030.
SAF is widely considered in the global aviation industry as a crucial step to reaching net zero by 2050
“Boeing has been a huge proponent of SAF as the most immediate and long-term method to help the industry reach its target of net zero by 2050,” Kuljit Ghata-Aura, president of Boeing in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, said.
“SAF is the method by which you can do this with the least disruption to existing infrastructure and existing aircraft design, and is therefore a real credible solution.”
Commercial aircraft are currently allowed to fly using a maximum of 50 per cent blend of SAF combined with conventional jet fuel, and the industry is working towards certification that will permit 100 per cent SAF.