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Rolls Test Flight Uses 100% Sustainable Fuel

Oct. 20, 2021
Flying a Boeing 747 Flying Testbed aircraft, a Trent 1000 engine completed a nearly four-hour flight powered by unblended, low-carbon jet fuel.

Rolls-Royce reported that it completed a successful test flight of a Trent 1000 engine using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The flight, on a Boeing 747 Flying Testbed aircraft, took off from Tucson, Ariz., and lasted nearly four hours, flying over Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

Three of the 747’s engines ran on standard jet fuel, while the fourth was powered by low-carbon SAF supplied by World Energy.

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.)

World Energy, the supplier of the fuel, claims that its formulation is “a drop-in fuel solution” that requires no change to an aircraft or engine fuel system, distribution infrastructure or storage facilities.

Currently, commercial aircraft are certified to operate on a maximum of 50% SAF blended with conventional jet fuel, but Rolls-Royce and others have worked to certify non-blended SAF operation. Boeing Co. has committed itself to ensure that all of its commercial aircraft are capable and certified to operate entirely with SAF by 2030.

Rolls-Royce previously tested SAF operation on its Trent XWB and Pearl engines, both on the ground and in the air. Recently, it confirmed that all of its Trent engines will be compatible with 100% SAF by 2023.

Rolls noted that the 747 flight was conducted in close collaboration with Boeing, which provided technical support and oversight on aircraft modifications and assurance the aircraft systems would operate as expected with 100% SAF.

“We believe in air travel as a force for cultural good, but we also recognize the need to take action to decarbonize our industry,” stated Simon Burr, Rolls-Royce director of product development and technology – Civil Aerospace. “This flight is another example of collaboration across the value chain to make sure all the aircraft technology solutions are in place to enable a smooth introduction of 100% SAF into our industry.”

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