Emirates Airlines has operated its first milestone demonstration flight on a Boeing 777-300ER, powering one of its engines with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
The demonstration flight took off from Dubai International Airport (DXB), flying for more than one hour over the Dubai coastline.
The flight, the first in the Middle East and North Africa to be powered by 100% SAF, aims to support broader efforts to reduce lifecycle CO2 emissions as the industry looks to scale up its use of SAF.
Currently, SAF is approved for use in all aircraft, but only in blends of up to 50% with conventional jet fuel.
The airline says the demonstration flights will help to refine the playbook for future SAF use, and support future certification where 100% drop-in SAF fuel is approved for aircraft.
The flight holds particular significance for UAE as the country declares 2023 the ‘Year of Sustainability’ and commits to seeking innovative solutions to climate change-related challenges.
“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,” said Adel Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer of the Airline.
Emirates worked alongside partners GE Aerospace, Boeing, Honeywell, Neste, and Virent to procure and develop a blend of SAF that closely replicates the properties of conventional jet fuel.
At each blend ratio, the airline says a host of chemical and physical fuel property measurements were carried out. After multiple lab tests and rigorous trials, they arrived at a blending ratio that mirrored the qualities of jet fuel.
Eighteen tonnes of SAF were blended, comprised of HEFA-SPK provided by Neste (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids and synthetic paraffinic kerosene) and HDO-SAK from Virent (hydro deoxygenated synthetic aromatic kerosene).
The 100% SAF supplied one GE90 engine, with conventional jet fuel supplying the other engine.
“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,” Redha said.
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