Etihad becomes first Middle East carrier to use sustainable biofuel as it takes delivery of new Boeing aircraft
Etihad's new 777-300ER taking on biofuel blend prior to departure from Paine Field (photo: Etihad)
Wed 25 Jan 2012 – Etihad Airways’ newest 777-300ER aircraft that arrived yesterday in Abu Dhabi from the Boeing factory in Seattle was powered on its 14-hour flight by a blend of plant-based jet fuel sourced from recycled vegetable cooking oil and traditional jet kerosene. The biofuel blend was supplied by SkyNRG, which has virtually cornered the market availability of sustainable jet fuel just now, with involvement already in maiden commercial biofuel flights by carriers in Europe, Asia, the United States and now the Middle East. Boeing helped Etihad source the fuel and also worked on testing the biofuel blend and other technical aspects associated with preparing for the flight.
“We think the Middle East has great potential to give a critical boost towards making a market for sustainable jet fuel that is affordable,” commented SkyNRG Managing Director Dirk Kronemeijer. “With this flight, Etihad Airways has taken a fantastic step, particularly in increasing awareness within this region. There is a lot more to come in this continent and we are determined to be there when that happens.”
For Etihad, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, it becomes the first airline to fly directly from an airplane manufacturer on biofuel and also the first Middle East carrier to use sustainable bio-derived jet fuel.
“This flight marks a significant milestone in our efforts to support and drive the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel in Abu Dhabi, the region and globally,” announced the airline’s President and CEO, James Hogan.
“However, the use of a presently available biofuel is just one part of a more comprehensive long-term biofuel strategy to ensure that we are able to use biofuels to decarbonise substantially an entire industry sector in the long term.”
As a member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), Etihad says it is committed to complying with a stringent set of sustainability principles when looking at opportunities for biofuel development and use, including ensuring feedstocks are non-competitive with food sources and that drinking water supplies are not jeopardised.
The airline is already committed to a five-year, $2 million programme in Abu Dhabi as part of the Masdar Institute’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC). The project, which launched in March 2009, is supporting research into the use of salt water tolerant plants as the basis for alternative aviation fuels.
Etihad also points out that the commercial viability of biofuels is gaining even greater importance as aviation carbon emissions face growing regulation around the world. Under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme that came into force on January 1, emissions from biofuels are considered exempt.