Thursday, February 2, 2023

Emirates conducts a significant demonstration flight using only 100% renewable aviation fuel

“This flight is a milestone moment for Emirates and a positive step for our industry as we work collectively to address one of our biggest challenges - reducing our carbon footprint. It has been a long journey to finally see this demonstration 100% SAF flight take off. Emirates is the first passenger airline in the world to operate a Boeing 777 powering a GE engine with 100% SAF. Such initiatives are critical contributors to industry knowledge on SAF, and provide data to demonstrate the use of higher blends of SAF for future regulatory approvals. 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.” ~Adel Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer, Emirates Airline
Emirates operates milestone demonstration flight powered with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel

One of Emirates' Boeing 777-300ER engines was powered by 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) during the company's first historic demonstration flight. Captain Fali Vajifdar and Captain Khalid Nasser Akram were in command of the flight, which flew over the coastline of Dubai for more than an hour after taking off from Dubai International Airport (DXB).

Since the United Arab Emirates has designated 2023 as the "Year of Sustainability," the demonstration flight powered by SAF is of particular significance. The UAE's commitment to finding novel solutions to problems like energy, climate change, and other issues related to sustainability will be demonstrated throughout the year. The flight helps advance the UAE's sustainability goals and supports collective industry efforts to enable 100% SAF flying in the future.

As the industry looks to expand its use of SAF, Emirates' demonstration flight, which was the first in the Middle East and North Africa to be powered entirely by SAF, supports broader efforts to reduce lifecycle CO2 emissions. The flights will also support future certification where 100% drop-in SAF fuel is approved for aircraft and help refine the playbook for future SAF demonstrations. Currently, SAF can be used in all aircraft, but only in combinations with conventional jet fuel of up to 50%.

A blend of SAF that closely resembles conventional jet fuel was procured and developed by Emirates in collaboration with partners GE Aerospace, Boeing, Honeywell, Neste, and Virent. Numerous chemical and physical fuel property measurements were carried out at each blend ratio. They arrived at a blending ratio that mirrored the characteristics of jet fuel after conducting numerous laboratory tests and rigorous trials. HEFA-SPK from Neste (hydrolyzed esters, fatty acids, and synthetic paraffinic kerosene) and HDO-SAK from Virent (hydrolyzed synthetic aromatic kerosene) were mixed into 18 tons of SAF. One GE90 engine was supplied by the 100% SAF, and the other was powered by conventional jet fuel.

The test flight also demonstrates that the specially blended SAF is compatible as a safe and dependable fuel source. The promising outcome of this initiative also contributes to the body of industry data and research on SAF blends in higher proportions. This makes it possible to standardize and eventually approve 100% drop-in SAF as a replacement for jet fuel, which is significantly higher than the current blend limit of 50%.

“GE Aerospace congratulates Emirates on this major achievement. SAF is critical to helping the aviation industry reach its goal to be net zero by 2050 and collaborations like this to test 100% SAF globally will help bring us closer to this target. All GE Aerospace engines can operate on approved SAF blends today and we are helping support the approval and adoption of 100% SAF.” ~Aziz Koleilat, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing for the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Turkey at GE Aerospace

“Boeing congratulates Emirates on its successful flight tests using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). SAF will play a critical role in the aviation industry’s commitment to be net zero by 2050, requiring strong industry collaboration. We were proud to partner with Emirates on these tests and look forward to further working with our partners to enable the widespread use of SAF across the globe.” ~Omar Arekat, Vice President, Commercial Sales and Marketing, Middle East, The Boeing Company

“We are excited to apply our technology to such a milestone demonstration. The 331-500 auxiliary power unit or APU is an integral part of the Boeing 777 aircraft system. The APU provides main engine starting, environmental control and emergency back-up systems for the aircraft on the ground and in-flight. It uses the same fuel as the main propulsion engines. Currently the APU is certified to run on only 50% SAF, so this demonstration is a big first step in showing full APU functionality and capability when running on 100% SAF.” ~Mosab Alkubaisy, Director of Airlines, Honeywell Aerospace Middle East

"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. Test flights like this Emirates flight with Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel are an important step towards 100% SAF certification. Neste is working closely together with partners to accelerate the availability and use of SAF as we increase our SAF production capacity to 1.5 million tons per annum by the end of this year. We look forward to growing the supply of SAF also to Dubai.” ~Jonathan Wood, Vice President EMEA, Renewable Aviation at Neste

“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. Along with our parent company Marathon Petroleum Corporation, we are committed to meeting today’s energy needs while investing in an energy diverse future, and today’s flight is a great example of this commitment. We’re excited about this opportunity to work with our forward-thinking colleagues at Emirates, GE Aerospace, Boeing, Honeywell and Neste as we demonstrate that we can power sustainable aviation without modifying today’s modern airline engines or the infrastructure that serves the airline industry.” ~Dave Kettner, President and General Counsel of Virent, Inc.

ENOC's Group CEO, His Excellency Saif Humaid Al Falasi, praised the achievement because it coincides with the designation of 2023 as the "Year of Sustainability" by the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Additionally, it is a significant step toward achieving climate neutrality and lowering carbon dioxide emissions.

“At ENOC, we prioritise working closely with our strategic partners to implement a national roadmap for sustainable aviation fuel. This not only aims to accelerate the decarbonisation of the aviation sector, but also contributes to achieving the UAE’s goals in climate neutrality, enhances the efficiency and conservation of fuel, as well as positions the UAE as a regional hub for sustainable aviation fuel. Playing an active role in supplying Dubai Airports with aviation fuel, ENOC Group is participating in this achievement by securing and blending sustainable aviation fuel, which will help to secure this type of fuel in the UAE in the future.” ~Saif Humaid Al Falasi, Group CEO at ENOC

Emirates has made significant progress in fuel efficiency and conservation as well as operational advancements across its operations, and the airline is committed to supporting initiatives that assist in reducing its CO2 emissions. The airline is looking into ways to improve operational fuel efficiency, SAF, low carbon aviation fuels (LCAF), and renewable energy, and it backs IATA's collective industry commitment to zero emissions by 2050.

The airline already has a comprehensive program for fuel efficiency in place. This program actively looks into and implements ways to reduce emissions and unnecessary fuel use wherever it is operationally possible. The operation of "flex tracks," or flexible routings, which collaborate with air navigation service providers to develop the most effective flight plan for each flight, is one of the program's most significant initiatives. Since 2003, these endeavors have been ongoing, and Emirates has collaborated with IATA to make this global routing system a standard practice whenever possible.

Emirates’ first flight powered by SAF blended with jet fuel was in 2017, operating from Chicago O’Hare airport on a Boeing 777. It received its first SAF-powered A380 delivery in 2020, and also uplifted 32 tonnes of SAF for its flights from Stockholm that same year. 

About Emirates 
The Emirates story started in 1985 when we launched operations with just two aircraft. Today, we fly the world’s biggest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, offering our customers the comforts of the latest and most efficient wide-body aircraft in the skies. We inspire travelers around the world with our growing network of worldwide destinations, industry leading inflight entertainment, regionally inspired cuisine, and world-class service.

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