Etihad Airways flies first flight with sustainable aviation fuel
Approximately 160,000 passenger flights have flown on a blend of sustainable and traditional jet fuel since the first biofuels were certified for commercial use in 2011.
Etihad Airways has completed the world's first commercial flight using locally produced sustainable fuel that is derived from plants grown in saltwater.
Khalifa University, Etihad Airways, Boeing, Adnoc, Safran, GE, and Bauer Resources worked together to develop a comprehensive sustainable aviation fuel value chain. The flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam, on an Etihad Airways Boeing 787 powered by GE's GEnx-1B engines, marked a major milestone in the development of a clean, alternative aviation fuel to reduce carbon emissions. The initiative also addresses food security in the UAE through the farming of seafood as a core element in the process.
Sustainable fuel for the flight was derived from oil in Salicornia plants, which were grown on the two-hectare Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS) farm in Masdar City. The SEAS is the world's first desert ecosystem designed to produce fuel and food in saltwater. Fish and shrimp raised at the facility provide nutrients for the plants as well as contribute to the UAE's food production.
Using sustainable feedstock to produce the fuel significantly reduces life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions compared to fossil fuel. The biofuel is blended directly with jet fuel and does not require any modifications to aircraft, engines or airport fuelling delivery systems. The unique initiative also bolsters the oil and gas industry by using existing refining infrastructure, with the potential to become an important new option for sustainable aviation fuel in the future.
"The UAE's visionary leadership is strongly committed to positioning the country as a global hub for innovation and sustainability. In this context, productive cross-disciplinary public-private partnerships are crucial to fuelling research and development efforts and creating game-changing innovations that enable a more sustainable future," said Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment.
"Deep decarbonisation of energy-intensive industries has a ripple effect on food security and climate action. Clean, alternative aviation fuels are an innovative and sustainable solution to significantly reducing harmful carbon emissions. The UAE is proud to be a pioneer in this domain," he said.
Tony Douglas, group chief executive officer at Etihad Aviation Group, said: "This is a significant milestone for the UAE and its key industries. Etihad is fully committed to this project which demonstrates a successful proof of concept that is local, viable, cost-effective and sustainable. Decarbonisation is important across the aviation industry and, together with our partners, Etihad is proud to be at the forefront of this pioneering new research."
Approximately 160,000 passenger flights have flown on a blend of sustainable and traditional jet fuel since the first biofuels were certified for commercial use in 2011. Sustainable aviation fuel represents a significant opportunity to help aviation meet its goals to cap the growth of carbon emissions by 2020 and cut levels to half of what they were in 2005 by 2050.