Renewable fuel supplier Neste, regional aircraft manufacturer ATR, and Swedish airline Braathens Regional Airlines announced the completion of the first-ever 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)-powered test flight on a commercial regional aircraft.
Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is seen as one of the key tools to help decarbonize the aviation industry, which currently accounts for 2-3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. SAF is generally produced from sustainable resources, like waste oils and agricultural residues. SAF producers estimate the fuels can generate up to 80% greenhouse gas emissions saving relative to conventional fuels.
Stefano Bortoli, ATR CEO, said:
“The flight represents a true milestone for the entire aviation industry as it shows that this technology works and can be promptly adopted by many in our industry to speed up the transition to low-emission aviation.”
The flight, which took place in Sweden, is part of the 100% SAF certification process of ATR aircraft that started last year in cooperation with the two companies, which is expected to be completed in 2025. At the beginning of 2022, ATR also carried out a series of ground and flight tests with SAF in one engine, and the recent test flight was completed with 100% SAF in two engines for the first time.
Per G Braathen, Chairman of Braathens Regional Airlines, said:
“As a leading Swedish domestic airline, our sustainability focus started long before any other airline, and this milestone is one of the main pillars and represents a real innovation for the industry. It proved that 100% SAF is the most immediate and effective option we have to reduce CO2 emissions and move faster to a decarbonized industry.”
The flight marks the latest in a series of sustainable aviation fuel milestones. Late last year, United Airlines announced the completion of the first-ever passenger flight with an engine powered by 100% SAF, and the UK recently pledged to deliver the first-ever net-zero emissions transatlantic flight, powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel by the end of next year.
According to Neste, when used in its neat form, “Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel”, which is made from 100% renewable waste and residue raw materials like used cooking oil, reduces greenhouse gas emissions over its lifecycle by up to 80% compared to fossil jet fuel use.
Jonathan Wood, Neste’s Vice President Europe, Renewable Aviation, said:
“When used in neat form, at 100% concentration as on this test flight, Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions over its life cycle by up to 80% compared to fossil jet fuel use and provides additionally non-CO2 benefits through significantly reduced particulate emissions, among others. As a drop-in fuel, it can be used in existing aircraft engines and is compatible with current airport fuel infrastructure. Test flights like this show it is possible to safely fly on 100% SAF and help accelerate the adoption of SAF in aviation.”