‘A monumental step forward’

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Boeing, Etihad Airways and World Energy concluded their testing on the 2020 ecoDemonstrator programme last week with a cross-country flight using a 50/50 blend of sustainable and traditional jet fuel, which is the maximum sustainable fuel blend for commercial aviation.

Etihad’s 787-10 Dreamliner flew from Seattle to Boeing’s manufacturing site in South Carolina last week, with pilots, air traffic controllers and airlines operation centres communicating simultaneously to optimise routing.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad Aviation Group Chief Operating Officer has described the flight as a ‘monumental step forward’ for the industry as it proves the viability of producing 50/50 blend sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at a high volume.

“This is a prime example of industry collaboration towards sustainable aviation and innovation,” Al Bulooki commented. “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.”

The programme is a promising glimpse in to the future. The fuel, which reduces carbon emissions by more than 75% over its life cycle, will help accelerate other technologies that can reduce emissions and noise and enhance the safety and health of passengers and crew.

“Sustainable aviation fuels are proven and work in airplanes flying today and those that will fly tomorrow, but there’s a very limited supply,” said Sheila Remes, vice president of strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “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.”

“We congratulate Boeing and Etihad for their industry leadership in helping push the technical and sustainability boundaries of SAF,” said Bryan Sherbacow, chief commercial officer at World Energy. “This 50/50 blend demonstrates the maximum achievable greenhouse gas reduction commercially available today for aviation fuel.”

Following Etihad and Boeing’s achievement, the pressure is mounting for the rest of the aviation industry to follow suit for a more sustainable future.