Airbus is currently utilising its double-decker A380 jumbo-jet as a test-bed for new aviation technology, more than three years after the corporation ceased building it. On March 25, the A380 test plane flew for three hours utilising Sustainable Aviation Fuel in one of its four engines.
At 8:43 a.m. local time, an Airbus ZEROe demonstrator aircraft took off from Amsterdam. A second hydrogen-powered test engine will be added at the rear end of the fuselage in the future as part of the company's ambition to produce a zero-emission aircraft by 2035.
The 27 tons of SAF for the flight were given by Total Energies, a French oil and gas company with a refinery in Le Havre, a significant port in the Normandy area. Airbus uses HEFA, which stands for Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acid that is completely aromatic and sulphur-free. The majority of the HEFA is made up of waste cooking oil.
Following an Airbus A350 in March 2021 and an A319neo single-aisle aircraft in October 2021, it is the third Airbus aircraft type to be operated on 100% SAF in a 12-month period. Another Safran Makila 2 engine was powered entirely by SAF on an Airbus H225 helicopter in November. According to certification standards, commercial Airbus aeroplanes are approved to burn 50% biofuel mixes.
According to the second edition of Waypoint 2050, published last September by the Air Transport Action Group, the use of SAF could account for a third to half of the carbon emissions reductions required by the aviation industry to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century.
By 2050, a scenario called 'Aggressive Sustainable Fuel Deployment' in the paper predicts that 90% of our fuel supply would be SAF. This would need 445 Mt of SAF and an increase in sustainable fuel use of 89.9%.