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Emirates Conducts World’s First Airbus A380 Flight Using 100 Percent SAF in One Engine

Emirates has become the world’s first airline to operate an Airbus A380 flight using 100 percent SAF.  The drop-in SAF was comprised of HEFA-SPK provided by Neste and HDO-SAK from Virent, which powered one of four Engine Alliance GP7200 engines.

Emirates Successfully Completes Landmark Airbus A380 Demonstration Flight Using 100 Percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in One Engine - Courtesy Emirates

On Wednesday (November 22, 2023), Emirates announced the successful completion of the world’s first Airbus A380 demonstration flight using 100 percent SAF in one engine.  Today’s flight from Dubai International Airport (DXB) was commanded by Captain Khalid Binsultan and Captain Philippe Lombet.  The drop-in SAF used to power one of the super-jumbo’s four Engine Alliance GP7200 engines was comprised of HEFA-SPK (hydro processed esters and fatty acids synthetic paraffinic kerosene) provided by Neste and HDO-SAK (hydro deoxygenated synthetic aromatic kerosene) from Virent.  Engine Alliance is a 50-50 joint company between GE Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney.  ENOC helped secure the neat SAF and blended it with sustainable aviation kerosene (SEK) in their facility at DXB.  The Pratt & Whitney Canada PW980 APU was also powered by 100 percent SAF.  Currently, SAF is capped at a 50 percent blend for commercial flights.

In Wednesday’s announcement, Emirates Airline’s Chief Operating Officer, Adel Al Redha, said,

“Emirates is the first passenger airline in the world to operate an A380 with 100% drop-in SAF powering one of four Engine Alliance GP7200 engines.  This is another proud moment for Emirates and our partners, as we put words into action with the research into and the trialling of higher concentrations of SAF to eventually lead to industry adoption of 100% SAF flying.  This marks another significant step in validating the use of SAF in one of the engines of the A380, a wide-body aircraft with four engines.  The growing global demand for lower-emission jet fuel alternatives is there, and the work of producers and suppliers to commercialise SAF and make it available will be critical in the coming years to help Emirates and the wider industry advance our path to lower carbon emissions.”

From Left to Right: Edgar Steenwinkel, Senior Vice President Technology at Virent; Klaas Pel, Global Head of Aviation Regulation, Neste; Farid Bastaki, Director, ENOC Aviation; Mikail Houari, President Africa and Middle East at Airbus; Adel Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer, Emirates Airline; Aziz Koleilat, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing for the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Turkey at GE Aerospace; Ahmed Safa, Divisional Senior Vice President Emirates Engineering; Alexandre Jay, A380 Chief Engineer, Airbus – Courtesy Emirates

Also commenting on the milestone demonstration flight, Airbus’ EVP – Communications and Corporate Affairs, Julie Kitcher, said,

“Seeing Emirates flying an A380, the world’s largest airliner, powered by an engine running on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuels is a symbolic moment.  These fuels are the most effective way to address CO2 emissions in the aviation industry today and that they are supported increasingly by the world’s leading airlines.  SAF is vital to meeting the sector's target of net-zero emissions in 2050, but needs the backing of the whole industry.  At Airbus, we are working to make all our aircraft 100% SAF-capable by 2030.  We’re also working with partners to grow the global SAF market in the coming years.  Airbus’s purpose as a company is to pioneer sustainable aerospace for a safe and united world.  Through our partnership with Emirates, we're matching ambition with action.”

Further commenting on the landmark flight, Neste’s VP – Commercial Management and Business Development for Renewable Aviation, Jonathan Wood, said,

“Sustainable Aviation Fuel plays a crucial role in reducing the emissions of air travel, but to fully leverage its decarbonisation potential we need to enable 100% SAF use.  Test flights like this Emirates A380-flight using Neste’s SAF are an important step towards 100% SAF certification and we applaud Emirates for its efforts to help pave the way forward.  Neste is working closely together with partners to accelerate the availability and use of SAF and we look forward to growing the supply of SAF also to Dubai.”

Emirates' Historic Airbus A380 100 Percent SAF Flight was Commanded by Captain Khalid Binsultan and Captain Philippe Lombet - Courtesy Emirates

Virent’s President and General Counsel, Dave Kettner, added,

“Virent congratulates Emirates Airline on another successful demonstration flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel featuring Virent’s cleaner-burning BioForm® SAK.  With Virent’s plant-based fuels technology, this test flight showed that 100% renewable fuel can meet current specifications and work flawlessly in today’s commercial airline engines.  It’s critical that a consortium of companies, like this group, come together to bring sustainable aviation fuel into more widespread use.  Virent will continue to collaborate with future-focused companies, and through this collaboration we can continue to reduce emissions and power a more fuel-efficient airline industry.”

Emirates Successfully Completes World's First Airbus A380 Flight Using 100 Percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel in one of the Aircraft's Engine Alliance GP7200 Engines - Courtesy Emirates

Earlier this year, Emirates completed the SAF first 100 percent SAF flight in the region with a GE90-powered Boeing 777-300ER.  Last month, the carrier’s first flights with SAF provided by Shell Aviation took off from DXB, with Shell supplying 315,000 gallons of blended SAF for use at the carrier’s Dubai hub.  Recently, Emirates expanded their partnership with Neste for the supply of over 3.0 million gallons of blended SAF in 2024 and 2025 for flights departing Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) and Singapore Changi Airport (SIN).  The carrier also uplifts SAF in Norway and France and continues to seek opportunities to use SAF at a range of airports as supply becomes available.

Source: Emirates


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