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Boeing Commits to 100% Sustainable Fuels by 2030

Jan. 24, 2021
The jet builder is focused on raising the current, 50% blending limit on SAF to meet the industry’s carbon-cutting goal sooner than targeted.

Boeing Co. has committed itself to ensure by 2030 that all of its commercial aircraft are capable and certified to operate entirely with “sustainable aviation fuels.” This would be in contrast to the present maximum allowable fuel blends that incorporate up to 50% sustainable fuel components.  Specifically, the commitment is to determine what changes are required for Boeing’s current and future commercial jets to fly on 100% sustainable fuels, and to work with regulatory authorities and across the industry to raise the blending limit for expanded use.

Boeing also offered the view that “to meet aviation's commitment for reducing carbon emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2050, airplanes need the capability to fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuels well before 2050.” According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, commercial aviation produced 2.4% of all carbon emissions worldwide in 2018. Based on the sector’s projected growth at that time, EESI predicted those emissions volumes could triple by 2050.

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is produced using waste oils from biological sources (e.g., cooking oil, other non-palm waste oils from plants, agricultural residue, or non-fossil CO2), or solid waste from homes or businesses (e.g., packaging, paper, textiles, food waste.)

Boeing’s chief sustainability officer, Chris Raymond said: "Sustainable aviation fuels are proven, used every day, and have the most immediate and greatest potential to reduce carbon emissions in the near and long term when we work together as an industry."

Boeing has conducted test flights replacing petroleum jet fuel with 100% sustainable fuels, which it calls “successful.” It also has partnered with airlines, industry, governments, and research institutions to expand SAF supplies and reduce the fuels' cost. It began conducting biofuel test flights in 2008, and in 2018, the Boeing ecoDemonstrator flight-test program made the world's first commercial jet flight using 100% sustainable fuels with a 777 Freighter, in collaboration with FedEx Express.

Other aircraft and jet-engine builders have made similar development efforts: in November, Rolls-Royce announced it would conduct ground tests on a high-bypass turbofan engine using 100% SAF for the first time, aiming to establish that unblended SAF can be used in current engine models.

Boeing cited the Air Transport Action Group, U.S. Det. of Energy, and other scientific studies to state that SAF reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% over the fuel's lifecycle, with the potential to reach 100% in the future.

"Our industry and customers are committed to addressing climate change, and sustainable aviation fuels are the safest and most measurable solution to reduce aviation carbon emissions in the coming decades," stated Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Stan Deal. "We're committed to working with regulators, engine companies, and other key stakeholders to ensure our airplanes and eventually our industry can fly entirely on sustainable jet fuels."

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