Boeing has concluded testing on its 2020 ecoDemonstrator programme with Etihad Airways 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 Airways’ 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 optimise routing.
Speaking on the development was chief operating officer, Etihad Aviation Group, Mohammad Al Bulooki: “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.”
He continued: “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 programme 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 minimise 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,” vice president of strategy, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Sheila Remes declared. “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.
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 Airways used the initial batch of fuel from the pilot project in January 2019 on a passenger flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam.