Before you get worried, the fuel used for the test flight was Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), which is made of a blend of used cooking oil and greases. The test flight lasted for three hours, and took off from Blagnac Airport in Toulouse. The aircraft was powered by a single Rolls Royce Trent 900 engine.
This was soon followed by another test flight on the 29th of March, with an A-380 using cooking oil fuel, flying from Toulouse to Nice. This flight was used to monitor the efficacy of Sustainable Aviation Fuel during take-off and landing.
The fuel for the flights was provided by TotalEnergies, a French company based in Normandy. The SAF comprised a combination of Hydrotreated Fatty Acid and Esters, which are free of sulfur and aromatics.
The company has been testing SAF powered flights for the last one year, according to a statement from Airbus. In 2021, an A-350 was tested using the same ‘cooking oil’ fuel, and an A-319 using the same fuel was tested in October last year. At the moment, Airbus aircraft, including the A-380, can only be operated with up to 50 percent SAF, which is mixed with kerosene. The company aims to have all its planes certified to use SAF by the end of the decade.
In a statement, Airbus said that utilizing SAFs is a key element of achieving the industry ambition of net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. The company also said that planes powered by SAF would provide between 53 percent and 71 percent of carbon emission reductions required to meet this goal. Additionally, Airbus aims to produce and bring to market the world’s first zero emission aircraft by the year 2035.
Although SAF, which claims carbon neutrality due to absorption of CO2 during cultivation of its organic ingredients, is already being used by certain airlines, the high cost prevents a wider adoption of this alternative fuel.
As the largest aircraft in the world, the A-380s fortunes have dwindled in recent years, owing to lesser fuel efficiency than modern long-haul aircraft. Some airlines have requested more time to integrate the aircraft into their fleet. The last A-380 was delivered by Airbus to Dubai-based carrier Emirates in late 2021.
In a recent announcement, Airbus said that an A-380 would be utilized to test an experimental hydrogen engine, in a development with the aim of making aviation more sustainable and less harmful to the environment.
About Airbus, manufacturer of A-380
Airbus is a leader in designing, manufacturing and delivering aerospace products, services and solutions to customers on a worldwide scale.
With over 130,000 employees and as the largest aeronautics and space company in Europe and a worldwide leader, Airbus is at the forefront of the international aviation industry. Airbus builds the most innovative commercial aircraft and consistently captures about half of all commercial airliner orders. Thanks to its deep understanding of changing market needs, customer focus and technological innovation, Airbus offers products that connect people and places via air and space.
As a proven leader in the global aerospace sector, Airbus designs, produces and delivers innovative solutions with the aim to create a better-connected, safer and more prosperous world.
These cutting-edge products and services – which span the commercial aircraft, helicopter, defense, security and space segments – benefit from Airbus’ wide-ranging expertise and continued emphasis on innovation.
Airbus has built on its strong European heritage to become truly international – with roughly 180 locations and 12,000 direct suppliers globally. The company has aircraft and helicopter final assembly lines across Asia, Europe and the Americas, and has achieved over a 600 percent increase in order bookings since the year 2000.