At the moment all signs on the road point to electricity: electromobility is considered the gold standard for the turnaround in traffic, and in transport it is supported by hydrogen depending on the situation. It is not so easy in aviation. One thing is clear: something has to be done. There is still no clear answer to the question of what should be done. Large commercial aircraft that fly through the air purely electrically do not seem feasible at the moment. A good interim solution until there is a more sustainable option are biofuels. Airbus has now for the first time launched an A380 that is completely fueled by bio-kerosene.
CO2 reduction in aviation
The aviation industry is increasingly trying to reduce its own carbon footprint. Solutions for this are not as obvious as in other transport sectors, especially car transport. Airbus has now shown that even the large A380 jet can fly entirely on biokerosene. This was the third Airbus aircraft to fly with sustainable kerosene, which largely consists of cooking oil. Airbus aims to have the technology certified by the end of the decade.
The aircraft used for the test flight was the Airbus ZEROe, a demonstration A380 that will also be used to test hydrogen engines in the future.
SAF: jet fuel of the future?
For the test flight, the A380 was refueled with 27 tons of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The fuel consists largely of frying fat and fat waste. The kerosene powered the Rolls-Roy Trent 900 engines of the Airbus A380 during a three-hour test flight that took off from Blagnac airport in Toulouse on March 28, followed by a cross-country flight to Nice airport on March 29.
The demonstration followed successful test flights on an Airbus A350 and an Airbus A319neo with SAF. Using the biokerosene in the world’s largest passenger jet is another step forward for the Airbus test program. The aircraft manufacturer plans to have the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft in series production by 2035.
100 percent SAF by the end of the decade
Airbus is not alone in its efforts. As early as 2012, Boeing successfully crossed the Pacific with a 787 Dreamliner, which used a mixture of conventional kerosene and biokerosene. In 2014, the US company also opened a biokerosene refinery in China.
Airbus emphasizes the importance of SAF in striving to enable near-emissions commercial aviation by 2050. In a report titled “Waypoint 2050,” aviation experts SAF confirmed the potential for 53 to 71 percent of the required savings.
So far, all Airbus aircraft have been certified for use with 50 percent SAF. By the end of the decade, the company aims to achieve certification for flights with 100 percent SAF.