United completed first passenger flight in history using 100% sustainable aviation fuel


Don't miss the latest aviation news from Latin America and Spain in our newly Aviacionline English Feed at Twitter and Telegram . You may also follow us in LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for our broader coverage in Spanish.

On December 1, 2021, United Airlines carried out the first-ever passenger flight operated with 100% sustainable aviation fuel – SAF – for one of the two engines of its Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Flights operated completely on sustainable aviation fuel are not currently authorized, so only one of the LEAP-1B engines, developed by CFM International, a joint venture between GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines, could be powered at 100%.

United CEO Scott Kirby, who was on board the aircraft, said, «Today’s SAF flight is not only an important milestone for efforts to decarbonize our industry but also when combined with increased industry commitments to produce and purchase alternative fuels, we are demonstrating the scalable and impactful way in which companies can come together and have a role to play in addressing the greatest challenge of our lifetimes.»

The combined efforts among several companies in the industry are clearly looking to pave the way to certifying operations with 100% SAF in the near term. See also: Airbus says: commercial flights operated with sustainable aviation fuel are promising and Embraer and Pratt & Whitney partner to initiate a 100% sustainable aviation fuel flight demonstration program.

- Advertisement -

See also: Airbus speaks out: commercial flights powered by sustainable aviation fuel are promising and  Embraer and Pratt & Whitney partner to initiate a 100% sustainable aviation fuel flight demonstration program

On that note, GE Aviation reported that Etihad Airways and British Airways used a fuel blend containing SAF in test operations recently and is also working with Emirates to test 100% SAF in 2022.

The sustainable aviation fuel used for the United flight was «drop-in» ready, which means it can be used as a replacement for Jet A and conventional Jet A-1 without any modifications to engines or aircraft structures. Importantly, this makes it compatible with existing fleets and fuel storage and distribution infrastructures.

GE Aviation has been a pioneer in testing SAF for commercial flights. Gurhan Andac, its engineering leader for aviation fuels and additives, has played an important role in sustainable biofuels and synthetic fuels research. He is currently chairing an international working group that is developing standardized industry specifications to promote 100% adoption of SAF in flight.

A release issued by GE Aviation reports that «sustainable jet fuel can be made from 60 different feedstocks, including vegetable oils, algae, fats, fats, waste streams, alcohols, sugars, captured CO2 and other alternative feedstock sources and processes. The Department of Energy estimates that the United States alone has the resources to produce 50 to 60 billion gallons of SAF per year.»

The use of sustainable aviation fuel is one of the first major steps that the industry can take to advance the goal of decarbonizing operations, but this is not enough, since PBS offers up to 80% emissions reductions, but not the net-zero that the industry is aiming for.

United Airlines stated that they hope that the flight will encourage other airlines to start implementing sustainable aviation fuels in their operations. So far, only 1% of the fuel consumed in aviation is SAF.

Gaël Méheust, President and CEO of CFM International, said, «Direct SAF is something our industry can embrace now to begin advancing our commitment of being net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 (…) Together with our parent companies, GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines, we congratulate United for taking this bold initiative and look forward to even greater cooperation in the future».



Andrés Poleri
Periodista de investigación y viajero frecuente. No puedo evitar mirar al cielo. También hago comunicación científica.

Deja un comentario

Latest News

Aerolíneas Argentinas extends its operations between Cordoba and Mar del Plata

On January 1st, Aerolíneas Argentinas inaugurated its seasonal flights between Córdoba and Mar del Plata. The company has four...

KAI bets heavily on KF-21 Boramae, whose development is progressing at a good pace

At the Korean Aircraft Industries (KAI) plant in Sacheon, the four prototypes of the single-seat KF-21 have already been...

Austrian Airlines resumes flights to Los Angeles and expands operations in Spain

Austrian Airlines will offer 110 destinations and more than 1,300 flights per week by the 2022 summer season, continuing...

ITA Airways received authorization to operate scheduled flights to Brazil

The company received the authorization from ANAC Brazil, which was published in the Official Gazette on December 15, 2021....
- Advertisement -

Emirates restarts service to five countries

Emirates Airlines has announced that as part of its network recovery process and following the spike of the Omicron...

Ethiopian Airlines bets on the growth of Africa’s cargo market

Africa's largest airline will invest in services and infrastructure for cargo transportation. In doing so, it aims to become...

You May Also LikeCheck It Out!
Recommended For You