Emirates performs a demonstration flight with 100% sustainable aviation fuel

MADRID, 31 Ene.

Emirates performs a demonstration flight with 100% sustainable aviation fuel


Emirates airline has operated its first demonstration flight with a Boeing 777-300ER, fueling one of its engines with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), marking a milestone in its history.

The flight took off from Dubai International Airport (DXB) and was commanded by Captain Fali Vajifdar and Captain Khalid Nasser Akram, flying over the Dubai coast for more than an hour.

The demonstration flight, powered by SAF, is of particular importance at a time when the United Arab Emirates has declared 2023 the 'Year of Sustainability'. This year will show the commitment to find innovative solutions to challenges such as energy, climate change and other issues related to sustainability.

The flight supports the industry's collective efforts to enable a future of 100% SAF flights and help advance the UAE's sustainability goals.

The Emirates demonstration flight, the first in the Middle East and North Africa to be powered by 100% SAF, supports efforts to reduce life-cycle CO2 emissions as the industry looks to expand its use of SAF.

The flights will also help refine the manual for future SAF demonstrations, and support future certification approving the use of 100% SAF fuel for aircraft. Currently, the use of SAF is authorized in all aircraft, but only in blends of up to 50% with conventional aviation fuel.

Emirates collaborated with GE Aerospace, Boeing, Honeywell, Neste and Virent to source and develop a SAF blend that closely replicates the properties of conventional fuel. For each blend ratio, a series of measurements of the chemical and physical properties of the fuel were made.

After extensive laboratory testing and rigorous testing, a blend ratio was arrived at that reflected the qualities of jet fuel. 18 tons of SAF were blended, consisting of HEFA-SPK supplied by Neste (hydroprocessed fatty acids and esters and synthetic paraffinic kerosene) and HDO-SAK from Virent (hydrodeoxygenated synthetic aromatic kerosene). 100% SAF powered one GE90 engine, while conventional aviation fuel powered the other engine.

The test flight further demonstrates the compatibility of the SAF special blend as a safe and reliable fuel source. The result of this initiative also adds to the industry's body of data and research on SAF blends at higher ratios, paving the way for standardization and future approval of 100% SAF as a replacement for aviation fuel, well above the current 50% mixing limit.

Emirates is committed to supporting initiatives that help minimize its CO2 emissions, and the airline has already made great strides in fuel efficiency and conservation, as well as operational advancements.

The airline also supports IATA's industry collective commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and is exploring opportunities to increase operational fuel efficiency, SAF, low carbon aviation fuels (LCAF) and renewable energy.

The airline already has an extensive fuel efficiency program that actively researches and implements ways to reduce unnecessary fuel consumption and emissions, wherever operationally feasible.

Some of the program's most significant initiatives include operating 'flex runways', or flexible routes, in partnership with air navigation service providers to create the most efficient flight plan for each flight. Emirates is working with IATA to extend this routing system worldwide as standard operating procedure whenever possible.

Emirates' first flight powered by SAF blended with aviation fuel was in 2017, operating from Chicago O'Hare Airport on a Boeing 777. It took delivery of its first SAF-powered A380 in 2020, also loading 32 tonnes of SAF for its flights from Stockholm that same year.