GE Aviation
A rendering of the GE Aviation Passport engine.

GE Completes Sustainable Fuel Test for Turbofan Engines

May 26, 2022
Tests show the GE Aviation Passport engine can operate on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel – potentially lowering carbon emissions levels from long-range business jets.

GE Aviation reported the results of a successful test of its Passport turbofan engine using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF.) It’s the latest result among multiple efforts to lower carbon emissions in commercial and private aviation. The GE Passport is a smaller-scale version of the LEAP engine series developed by CFM International (a GE Aviation joint venture) developed for long-range business jets and introduced in 2018 for the Bombardier Global 7500 and 8000 series jets.

The engine developer notes it has 3% lower fuel consumption compared to other engines currently operating in the 18,000-pound thrust class; and 17% lower fuel consumption compared to the CF34-3 engine. Blisk fan blades, a high-efficiency compression system, rich-burn combustor, a proprietary turbine system, and a high-efficiency mixer help improved the Passport engine’s fuel efficiency.

Previous tests demonstrated the Passport engine can operate on approved SAF formulations, and the recent testing shows the capability of the engine to run on 100% SAF.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel is jet fuel produced from waste oils derived 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.) Currently, commercial aircraft are certified to operate on a maximum of 50% SAF blended with conventional jet fuel, though aircraft and jet-engine manufacturers have made commitments to increase the effective applicability of the alternative fuel.

The SAF used for the recent Passport testing is HEFA-SPK (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids synthetic paraffinic kerosene) – the most widely available SAF. Preliminary test results show the Passport engine performing similarly to when it runs on petroleum-based jet fuel.

“As our testing shows, the Passport engine, like all GE engines, can operate on approved Sustainable Aviation Fuel today and in the future,” according to Melvyn Heard, president of the Passport engine program. “Our customers can be confident that the Passport engine can help meet their sustainability goals to reduce CO2 emissions in flight, thanks to the Passport’s more fuel-efficient technologies compared to previous-generation business jet engines and ability to operate on lower-carbon fuels.”

Other recent SAF tests of GE/CFM International engines include a United Airlines jet flight of a Boeing 737 MAX 8, with SAF powering one of two LEAP-1B engines; a Boeing ecoDemonstrator test flight using 100% SAF in CFM LEAP-1B engines; and a 100% SAF-fueled FedEx flight of a Boeing 777F, powered by two GE90 engines.

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