Dubai’s Emirates Makes History As It Conducts a Test Flight With 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel


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Path Towards Decarbonisation

As Flight EK2646 of Dubai’s Emirates touched down after hovering around Dubai’s coastline for about 42 minutes a significant chapter was recorded in the history of the global aviation industry. This flight EK2646 was entirely powered by sustainable aviation fuel – a first in the MENA region. The flight took off from the Dubai International Airport and flew for 42 minutes before touching down to make history.

What Is Sustainable Aviation Fuel?

Made from bio-materials like corn grain, oilseeds, algae, biomass, manure, sludge from effluent treatment, etc, sustainable aviation fuel is an alternative to petroleum-based fuel that enables airlines – one of the worst climate offenders – to significantly reduce GHG. Apart from the obvious climate improvement, using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) comes with the added benefit of improving the livelihood of farmers, increasing the longevity of airplanes thanks to the absence of toxic aromatic materials, and improvement in biodiversity.

A History Was Made

With Capt. Fali Vajifdar and Capt. Khalid Nasser Akram in the pilot seats, Emirates made history by demonstrating that it is quite possible to fly an airplane with 100% green fuel. Adel Al Redha, the COO of the Emirates said on this occasion that the capability shown by Emirates is a new milestone for the entire aviation industry and the MENA region in particular. The EK2646 becomes the only wide-body airplane – at least in the Mena region – to be powered by 100% SAF. As Mr. Redha says that it has not been done in the previous years by any entity. This record achieved by Emirates is a step forward towards the use of practical methods to reduce emissions from flight operations.

The Helping Hand Behind The Feat Achieved By Emirates

Emirates achieved this feat with the help of GE Aerospace – the industry leader in the manufacturing of jet and turboprop engines and electrical power systems. Apart from GE Aerospace, Boeing and Honeywell further enabled Emirates to build the necessary aircraft infrastructure and power source to be able to run with SAF. The oil refining company, Neste, and the low-carbon fuel company Virent too have helped Emirates immensely in attaining the first mover’s advantage as far as the usage of 100% SAF in the MENA region is concerned.

One Small Step Towards Sustainability… One Giant Leap Towards Saving Earth

As UAE declares 2023 as the ‘Year of Sustainability’, this achievement by Emirates brings the entire aviation industry one step closer to noticeably reducing emissions. Saif Humaid Al Falasi of ENOC rightly says that this record will not only propel the aviation sector toward decarbonization but will also help Dubai achieve its goal of climate neutrality.


Extensive Tests Lead To This Impressive Feat

Before commencing this test flight, Emirates did extensive tests and R&D to make sure everything goes as planned. On January 23, it completed ground testing to examine the capability of one of its GE90 engines to run a special blend of sustainable aviation fuel. Today’s feat stands on the shoulder of this ground test.

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