Boeing and Etihad Airways concluded testing on the aerospace company’s 2020 ecoDemonstrator programme last week with a cross-country flight using a 50/50 blend of sustainable and traditional jet fuel.
Flying from Seattle to Boeing’s manufacturing site in South Carolina, Etihad’s newest 787-10 Dreamliner used the maximum sustainable fuel blend permitted for commercial aviation. The transcontinental flight also demonstrated a new way for pilots, air traffic controllers and airline operations centers to communicate simultaneously and optimize routing.
Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad Aviation Group Chief Operating Officer, said, “Together with Boeing and the national airline’s sustainable aviation fuel partners World Energy and EPIC, Etihad used 50,000 gallons of a 50/50 blend of sustainable aviation fuel on the final flight of our ecoDemonstrator 787-10 flight tests. This is a monumental step forward for the sector to prove the viability of producing a 50/50 blend of sustainable aviation fuel [SAF] at a high volume, an important moment for the industry.”
Al Bulooki added, “This is a prime example of industry collaboration towards sustainable aviation and innovation. Etihad’s collaboration with Boeing in the ecoDemonstrator programme has been a unique opportunity to lead the aviation industry’s drive for a sustainable future.”
Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator programme takes promising technologies out of the lab and tests them in the air to accelerate innovation. This year’s program evaluated four projects to reduce emissions and noise and enhance the safety and health of passengers and crew. All of the 787-10 test flights used a blend of traditional jet fuel and sustainable fuel produced from inedible agricultural wastes to minimize emissions, with the final flight operating at the maximum 50/50 commercial blend.
“Sustainable aviation fuels are proven and work in airplanes flying today and those that will fly tomorrow, but there’s a very limited supply,” said Sheila Remes, vice president of strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “World Energy is making commercial-scale volumes of sustainable fuel at competitive prices, leveraging government low-carbon incentives to accelerate production and use in an industry that relies on liquid fuels.”
The fuel from World Energy and supplied to Boeing by EPIC Fuels has been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials to reduce carbon emissions by more than 75 per cent over the fuel’s life cycle.
“We congratulate Boeing and Etihad for their industry leadership in helping push the technical and sustainability boundaries of SAF,” said Bryan Sherbacow, Chief Commercial Officer at World Energy. “This 50/50 blend demonstrates the maximum achievable greenhouse gas reduction commercially available today for aviation fuel.”
The partnership between Boeing and Etihad Airways represents a longstanding collaboration to make flying more sustainable. The two companies were among the founding partners that created the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium in 2010. Based at Khalifa University near Abu Dhabi, the pilot project for a unique desert ecosystem produces sustainable fuel from plants that grow in the desert, irrigated by coastal seawater. Etihad used the initial batch of fuel from the pilot project in January 2019 on a passenger flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam.
In January 2020, Etihad took delivery of its signature green 787-10 using a fuel mix comprising 30 per cent SAF produced by World Energy.
Boeing has been a leader in industry efforts to develop sustainable aviation fuel since before the first test flight on a commercial airliner in 2008. Along with others in the industry, the company worked to gain certification of sustainable fuel for commercial use in 2011 and collaborates around the world to create regional production roadmaps.
For more than a decade, World Energy and EPIC Fuels have produced and supplied SAF to Boeing for flight testing. Boeing offers airlines the option of using sustainable fuel for their airplane delivery flights. The first of these occurred in 2012 with an Etihad 777-300ER delivery flight from Everett, Washington, to Abu Dhabi.
Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As a top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries. Boeing employs more than 160,000 people worldwide and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.