Dubai-based Emirates has become the first airline ever to power a flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The demonstration flight took off from Dubai International Airport (DXB) on November 22, 2023, with one of its four engines hooked up to Neste supplied SAF.
Flown by Captain Khalid Binsultan and Captain Philippe Lombe, the superjumbo A380 relied on SAF with “renewable aromatic content”, which is similar to conventional jet fuel, making it a so-called “drop-in”, requiring no modifications to the aircraft or its engines before use.
This is the first time that drop-in SAF has been used on an A380 aircraft, with the expectation of full compatibility across the aircraft’s existing systems.
As well as Neste and Emirates, the demonstration flight involved Airbus, Engine Alliance, Pratt & Whitney, Virent and ENOC.
The SAF was used in an Engine Alliance GP7200 engine and the PW980 auxiliary power unit (APU) from Pratt & Whitney Canada.
“This is another proud moment for Emirates and our partners, as we put words into action with the research into and the trialing of higher concentrations of SAF to eventually lead to industry adoption of 100% SAF flying,” Adel Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer, Emirates Airline said.
Airbus’ Executive Vice President of Communications and Corporate Affairs, Julie Kitcher, described the demonstration flight as a “symbolic moment”.
“These fuels are the most effective way to address CO2 emissions in the aviation industry today and that they are supported increasingly by the world’s leading airlines. SAF is vital to meeting the sector’s target of net-zero emissions in 2050 but needs the backing of the whole industry. At Airbus, we are working to make all our aircraft 100% SAF-capable by 2030,” Kitcher said.
Earlier this year, Emirates successfully completed the first 100% SAF-powered demonstration flight in the region on a GE90-powered Boeing 777-300ER.