On the heels of Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg being nominated for a 2020 Nobel Peace Prize and the growing attention to climate change, airline manufacturers are taking note.
The world is changing and big firms such as Boeing and Airbus are hoping to make rapid progress on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), with many expecting it to be a major topic at next week’s Singapore Airshow, AINonline reported.
Asia’s huge position in the global air market makes it an important factor in the industry’s push toward SAF, with manufacturers expanding their plans for the region, the report said.
For example, while Airbus offers the option of delivery flights powered with SAF from its centers in Toulouse, France; Mobile, Alabama; and soon, Hamburg, Germany, it now envisions extending this option to Asia, specifically to its Chinese facility in Tianjin, according to Tony Derrien, sustainable aviation fuels project manager at the European aerospace giant.
The company is also collaborating with local partners in Malaysia to look at the possible production of alternative SAF in the country, Derrien added.
This would cover fuels that reduce CO2 emissions by at least 60 to 65% and are produced without making a negative impact on the environment, the report said.
Gulfstream expects sustainability to be a focus at the Singapore Airshow, said Charles Etter, technical fellow for environmental and regulatory affairs at the General Dynamics subsidiary. He said the event is “known for its environmentally friendly practices,” with the 2020 exhibition the first to be fully solar-powered.
“Beyond that, we intend to discuss sustainable aviation fuel and our use of it during the show,” Etter added.
Etter said that Gulfstream’s blend of 30% SAF and 70% traditional jet A fuel — produced by World Energy — meets the same fuel specifications as Jet A with additional environmental benefits, the report said.
Each gallon used saves at least 50% in CO2 emissions on a lifecycle basis, he added.
Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator 777 will fly to the Singapore Airshow on SAF, said Paul McElroy, a spokesperson for the US manufacturer.
SAF is virtually identical to jet A, so it can be used and blended with conventional fuel without any changes to infrastructure or aircraft, McElroy added. Indeed, “some approved sustainable fuels perform better than conventional jet fuel due to their higher energy density.”
There are significant challenges ahead for SAF, the report said. McElroy highlighted the need to increase supply and lower production costs to make SAF price competitive with conventional fuel.
Boeing has focused its Asia-Pacific efforts on China, Japan, and Australia. It worked with Hainan Airlines, for example, to fly the first passenger flights on sustainable fuel in China, which was produced from waste cooking oil by Sinopec, the report said.
A Bombardier spokesperson said the biggest challenge would be “overcoming the misconceptions surrounding SAF and its availability.”
Bombardier now offers SAF from one of its Canadian facilities, with the company working to make the fuels the standard in its day-to-day operations.