This weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the world’s first biofuel test flight. On February 24th 2008, Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 747-400 flew from London to Amsterdam on a 20% blend of fuel derived from oil contained in Brazilian babassu nuts and coconuts. Along with continued aeroplane efficiency improvements, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) represents a substantial, untapped opportunity to meet aviation’s carbon emission reduction goals and spur regional economic growth. A flight completely powered by sustainable fuel has the potential to reduce the carbon emissions of that flight by up to 80%.
Researchers and experts in the field have booked many successful results over the past 10 years. Today sustainable aviation fuel is being used regularly at four airports (Oslo, Bergen, Stockholm and Los Angeles). Airlines have flown over 113,000 passenger flights on a blend of sustainable fuels and fossil fuel since 2011 and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has set out an aim for one billion passengers to fly on flights powered by a mix of jet fuel and SAF by 2025.
Boeing is proud to work with partners on six continents to foster development of biofuel that can be scaled to meet commercial aviation needs at a price competitive with fossil fuel. In the United Kingdom, for example, waste gases from a steel mill is being used as a source for SAF. In parallel, Boeing is working with Renewable Energy Group, Finland’s Neste Corp. and others to gain approval of renewable diesel, a sustainable fuel widely used in ground transportation.