Emirates Airline operates first demo flight with 100% SAF
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Emirates Airline operates demo flight with 100% SAF

Emirates Airline operates demo flight with 100% SAF

It is the first passenger airline in the world to operate a Boeing 777 powering a GE engine with 100 per cent SAF

Gulf Business
Emirates operates demo flight with 100% SAF

Emirates has operated its first demo flight on a Boeing 777-300ER, powered by 100 per cent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

The flight took off from Dubai International Airport and was piloted by Captains Fali Vajifdar and Khalid Nasser Akram. It flew for over an hour over Dubai’s coast.

Emirates’ demo flight supports broader efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, refine the playbook for future SAF demonstrations and support future certification of 100 per cent drop-in SAF fuel. SAF is approved for use in all aircraft but only in blends of up to 50 per cent with conventional jet fuel.

Adel Al Redha, CEO Emirates Airline, said: “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 per cent SAF flight take off. Emirates is the first passenger airline in the world to operate a Boeing 777 powering a GE engine with 100 per cent 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 demonstration 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.”

Working with partners

Emirates collaborated with 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, 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.

Read: UAE’s Emirates completes engine ground testing with 100% sustainable aviation 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 per cent SAF supplied one GE90 engine, with conventional jet fuel supplying the other engine.

Jonathan Wood, VP EMEA, Renewable Aviation at Neste said: “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 per cent SAF use. Test flights like this Emirates flight with Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel are an important step towards 100 per cent 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 tonnes per annum by the end of this year.”

Supporting sustainability

Emirates supports initiatives to minimise CO2 emissions, has made strides in fuel efficiency and supports IATA’s commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The airline already runs a comprehensive fuel efficiency programme that actively investigates and implements ways to reduce unnecessary fuel burn and emissions, wherever it is operationally feasible. Some of the programme’s most significant initiatives include the operation of ‘flex tracks’, or flexible routings – partnering with air navigation service providers to create the most efficient flight plan for each flight. These efforts have been ongoing since 2003, and Emirates has been working with IATA to extend this routing system across the world as a standard operating procedure where 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.

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