US aerospace and defence giant Boeing has committed itself to ensuring that its commercial aeroplanes will be certified and able to fly using 100% sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) by 2030. The group has already successfully carried out test flights powered entirely by SAF. This is to meet the challenge posed by climate change.
“Our industry and customers are committed to addressing climate change, and sustainable aviation fuels are the safest and most measurable solution to reduce aviation carbon emissions in the coming decades,” affirmed Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Stan Deal. “We’re committed to working with regulators, engine companies and other key stakeholders to ensure our airplanes and eventually our industry can fly entirely on sustainable jet fuels.”
Currently, SAFs are mixed with conventional jet fuel, with the maximum allowable mix (under current fuel specifications) being 50:50. However, to achieve international aviation’s commitment to cut its carbon emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2050, it has to move to 100% SAF significantly before 2050. Research by various agencies and institutions, including the US Department of Energy and the Air Transport Action Group, indicate that the adoption of SAFs would cut commercial aviation's carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 80% over the fuel life cycle and could ultimately reach 100%.
Boeing has been working for years with research institutions, industry, airlines and governments regarding SAFs, seeking to increase their availability and reduce their costs. In cooperation with engine manufacturers, airlines and other agencies it started test flights with SAF in 2008. These helped lead to the approval of SAFs in 2011. And in 2018 a Boeing 777F freighter, operated by FedEx Express, made the first ever commercial aeroplane flight using 100% SAF (as part of Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator test flight programme).
“With a long history of innovation in [SAFs], certifying our family of airplanes to fly on 100% sustainable fuels significantly advances Boeing’s deep commitment to innovate and operate to make the world better,” highlighted company chief sustainability officer Chris Raymond. “[SAFs] are proven, used every day, and have the most immediate and greatest potential to reduce carbon emissions in the near and long term when we work together as an industry.”
SAF can be produced from many different feedstocks. These include agricultural and forestry waste, industrial plant off-gassing, non-edible plants and otherwise non-recyclable household waste, among other things. Credible and strong third-party certifications assure the sustainability of these fuels.