DUBAI- Emirates (EK) has achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first airline globally to conduct a demonstration flight with the exclusive use of 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) on an Airbus A380 aircraft.
The flight, commanded by Captain Khalid Binsultan and Captain Philippe Lombet, took off from Dubai International Airport (DXB), featuring one of its four engines powered entirely by SAF.
Emirates SAF A380 Flight
This highlights the potential of SAF as a direct replacement for traditional jet fuel, meeting both technical and chemical requirements while offering a more sustainable alternative.
SAF has the capacity to reduce carbon emissions by up to 85%* throughout its life cycle compared to conventional jet fuel.
Such demonstration flights, exemplified by today’s event, play a crucial role in paving the way for the standardization, qualification, and widespread adoption of 100% SAF usage.
This aligns with global efforts as governments formulate comprehensive strategies to support the production and scalability of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
The A380 demonstration flight underscores the efficacy and compatibility of SAF, establishing it as a secure and reliable fuel source.
Furthermore, it contributes valuable insights to the industry’s ongoing research evaluating the positive impacts of 100% SAF on aircraft performance. It’s worth noting that, at present, SAF is capped at a 50% blend limit in engines for commercial flights.
The Emirates A380 demonstration flight coincides with gathering the aviation industry, international organizations, regulatory bodies, and high-level policy influencers in Dubai for the Third International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3).
Collaborative efforts from Airbus, Engine Alliance, Pratt & Whitney, Neste, Virent, and ENOC have been instrumental in conducting the testing, technical assessments, and data analysis for today’s flight.
The 100% drop-in Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) utilized in today’s flight incorporates renewable aromatics and faithfully replicates the characteristics of conventional jet fuel.
Notably, this marks the first instance of using drop-in SAF on an A380 aircraft, with the anticipation of seamless compatibility across the aircraft’s existing systems.
The flight transported four tonnes of SAF, comprising HEFA-SPK from Neste (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids synthetic paraffinic kerosene) and HDO-SAK from Virent (hydro deoxygenated synthetic aromatic kerosene).
ENOC played a crucial role in securing the neat SAF, comprised of HEFA-SPK, and blending it with Sustainable Aviation Kerosene (SAK) at its facility in Dubai International Airport before the demonstration, and also facilitated into-plane services.
The 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) was utilized in a single Engine Alliance GP7200 engine, while the remaining three engines operated on conventional jet fuel. Additionally, the PW980 auxiliary power unit (APU) from Pratt & Whitney Canada ran exclusively on 100% SAF.
In the preceding week, comprehensive engine testing was conducted for one A380 Engine Alliance GP7200 engine, employing 100% SAF.
The primary objective was to validate the engine’s ability to function seamlessly on the specially blended 100% drop-in SAF without compromising performance or necessitating any modifications. This ground engine testing occurred at the cutting-edge Emirates Engineering Centre in Dubai.
Adel Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer of Emirates Airlines, expressed,
“Emirates has achieved a groundbreaking milestone as the first passenger airline worldwide to operate an A380 with 100% drop-in Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), powering one of the four Engine Alliance GP7200 engines. This represents another moment of pride for Emirates and our collaborators, as we move beyond words to action in researching and trialing higher concentrations of SAF, ultimately paving the way for the industry-wide adoption of 100% SAF flying. It’s a significant stride in affirming the viability of SAF in one of the engines of the A380, a wide-body aircraft equipped with four engines. The increasing global demand for lower-emission jet fuel alternatives is evident, and the efforts of producers and suppliers to commercialize SAF will be crucial in the coming years to facilitate Emirates and the broader industry’s progress toward lower carbon emissions.”
Julie Kitcher, Airbus Executive Vice President of Communications and Corporate Affairs, commented,
“Witnessing Emirates operate an A380, the world’s largest airliner, propelled by an engine running on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuels is a symbolic moment. These fuels stand out as the most effective means to address CO2 emissions in the aviation industry today and are gaining support from the world’s leading airlines. SAF plays a vital role in achieving the sector’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050, requiring the collective backing of the entire industry. At Airbus, our commitment is to make all our aircraft 100% SAF-capable by 2030, and we are collaborating with partners to expand the global SAF market in the years to come. Airbus’s overarching purpose is to pioneer sustainable aerospace for a safe and united world, and through our partnership with Emirates, we are translating ambition into tangible action.”
Amy Johnston, President of Engine Alliance, a 50-50 joint company between GE Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney, emphasized the enduring 15-year partnership between Engine Alliance and Emirates, dating back to the A380’s entry into service. She stated,
“We take pride in powering Emirates’ latest Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) demonstration flight and share a commitment to advancing more sustainable aviation practices in the future.”
Aziz Koleilat, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing for the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Turkey at GE Aerospace, highlighted the significance of innovation and collaboration in achieving the industry’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. He congratulated Emirates on the major achievement and expressed pride in contributing to industry efforts for a more sustainable future.
“All GE Aerospace and Engine Alliance engines can operate on approved SAF blends today. Through extensive research and testing, GE Aerospace is actively leading the approval and adoption of 100% SAF in the aviation industry.”
Graham Webb, Chief Sustainability Officer at Pratt & Whitney, emphasized the critical role of increasing SAF usage in attaining the objective of net-zero carbon emissions in aviation. Webb stated,
“We are committed to ensuring compatibility of all Pratt & Whitney’s engines and Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) with current and future SAF specifications, up to 100%. The in-flight demonstration on an Emirates A380 adds momentum to establishing future standards for 100% SAF, contributing to maximizing potential lifecycle emissions reduction for all commercial aircraft in the decades ahead.”
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