Boeing ramps up its acquisition of sustainable aviation fuels

17th February 2023 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Giant US aerospace and defence giant Boeing has announced that it is to increase its sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) purchases by more than 100% this year, in comparison with last year. The SAF, which will total 21.2-million litres, will be a SAF/conventional jet fuel blend produced by the world’s top SAF producer, Neste.

The blended fuel will be supplied to Boeing through EPIC Fuels, Signature Aviation and Avfuel. It will be used to support the operations of the Boeing Commercial Airplanes business.

“We are demonstrating our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint and catalyse the SAF industry,” reported Boeing VP of environmental sustainability Sheila Remes. “This SAF procurement makes up 25% of Boeing’s total jet fuel needs for last year including our production, delivery, Boeing ecoDemonstrator and Dreamlifter flights, and we aim to increase that portion in the years to come.”

The ecoDemonstrator is currently a Boeing 777-200ER modified to act as a testbed for aviation decarbonisation technologies. The Dreamlifter, or more formally the Boeing 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter, is a significantly rebuilt version of the renowned Jumbo Jet, with an enlarged fuselage to allow it to carry outsize cargo, specifically major components for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, from Japan and Italy to the US assembly plant.

SAF can cut carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80% over the fuel’s lifecycle, in comparison with conventional jet fuels. SAF can be produced from a variety of feedstocks and is currently certified for commercial use in fuel blends with up to 50% SAF, without requiring any modification to the aircraft or engines or airport fuel infrastructure. SAF is generally regarded as the most practical way to decarbonise aviation over the next two to three decades.

Boeing made its first test flights with SAF in 2008, which contributed to the approval for the use of SAF in commercial flights in 2011 and also, in 2012, on delivery flights. In 2018, the then ecoDemonstrator aircraft, a 777F (freighter), made the first ever flight by any commercial aircraft while using 100% SAF. In 2019 the group began offering its customers the option of fuelling the delivery flights of their new Boeing airliners with SAF. And this month Boeing announced that it had developed jet reference fluids to permit SAF compatibility testing, as a step towards the development of 100% SAF-compatible aircraft.