Boeing launches sustainable aviation fuel delivery flight option with Alaska as first customer
Tue 19 Mar 2019 – Boeing is to offer customer airlines and operators the option of having delivery flights of their new aircraft powered by blended sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The option will be available for customers accepting new aircraft from Boeing’s delivery centres in Seattle and Everett, and it is working to extend the option at its centre in South Carolina. The manufacturer also plans to use SAF for certain flight tests at its Boeing Field facility. The fuel will be supplied by World Energy from its Paramount refinery in California. The first participant in the programme is Alaska Airlines when it takes delivery of three Boeing 737 MAX airplanes intended for this year. Meanwhile, Airbus, which first introduced the delivery flight SAF option in 2016, has added China Southern Airlines to its programme with the delivery of an A320neo to the carrier’s Guangzhou base.
The Paramount facility is the world’s first facility designed to commercially produce renewable jet fuel and the biofuel produced for Boeing will be made from agriculture waste. It will be shipped to Boeing’s delivery centres in Washington state by EPIC Fuels, which has supported Boeing’s evaluation of biofuels on its ecoDemonstrator flight-test programme.
“Companies such as Boeing understand their obligation to the communities they serve and have taken meaningful action to transition to cleaner energy and reduce their carbon footprint,” said Bryan Sherbacow, World Energy’s Chief Commercial Officer. “Our job is to manage the low-carbon fuel supply chain to provide the product these leaders need to efficiently operate and drive positive change.”
Following its pioneering support of the first commercial aviation test flight to use biofuels by Virgin Atlantic in 2008, Boeing conducted extensive research, testing and review alongside other aircraft and engine manufacturers and stakeholders, leading to approval of the first biofuel blends for commercial use in 2011. It has also worked around the world to set up projects using feedstocks such as forestry and agriculture waste, Brazilian sugarcane and plants irrigated by coastal seawater in the United Arab Emirates.
“This is another step in our decade-long journey to encourage the adoption of sustainable fuels and help commercial aviation earn its licence to keep growing,” commented Sheila Remes, VP Strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, on the delivery option programme. “We have great customers such as Alaska Airlines that have made good progress in adopting the use of biofuels. We hope this new option will make it easier for them and others to demonstrate our industry’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.”
Responded Diana Birkett Rakow, VP External Relations at Alaska Airlines: “We congratulate our partners at Boeing for operationalising a drop-in sustainable aviation jet fuel option. We’re excited to not only take advantage of the first biofuel delivery, but to continue working together to advance and scale mainstream adoption of sustainable fuel and other practices to enhance the aviation industry’s ability to do good.”
The Airbus delivery flight option was developed in association with Air Total, which has installed a biofuel station adjacent to the Airbus delivery centre in Toulouse. More than 30 aircraft have so far been delivered since the facility was inaugurated in May 2016. The first was an Airbus A350 delivery to Cathay Pacific, which used a 10% blend of renewable jet fuel produced by Amyris from Brazilian sugar cane (see article). The Hong Kong-based carrier entered into a two-year agreement with Airbus on deliveries of new A350s.
In September 2018, Airbus introduced the biofuel option on delivery flights from its A320 family production facility in Mobile, Alabama, with JetBlue the first carrier to take advantage (see article). Airbus says it is working towards also offering the option from its facilities in Hamburg, Germany, and Tianjin, China.
“We are excited to welcome China Southern Airlines to our sustainable fuel programme,” said Simone Rauer, Head of Aviation Operations for Environmental Affairs at Airbus. “We are moving towards the regular use of new and sustainable energy sources in our industry, helping to meet the commitments of the international civil aviation community.”
Added Wu Rongxin, SVP Strategic Planning & Investment Division of China Southern: “We are proud to have taken delivery of our first aircraft to be partially powered by sustainable biofuel. This reflects our clear commitment to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment and to be among those airlines leading the way to using alternative fuel sources.”