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Category: Aviation

United Airlines flew a passenger flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel

United Airlines made history on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 when it operated the first passenger flight using 100 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

The plane used for the flight was one of United’s Boeing 737 Max 8s. More than 100 passengers, including the company’s CEO Scott Kirby, were on board the demonstration flight, which took off from Chicago’s O’Hare airport and landed at Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport.

Airplanes are normally only permitted to fly with a maximum of 50 percent SAF on board. Any flight using SAF is currently blending SAF and conventional jet fuel in the same engine. But for this test, United received special permission to use 500 gallons of 100 percent SAF in one engine and the same amount of conventional fuel in the other.

The test was done to prove there are no operational differences between the two — and to set the stage for the future of aviation with more scalable uses of SAF.

During the 612-mile flight, the engine using SAF emitted 75 percent less carbon dioxide than an engine using conventional fuel normally would, according to United. They claim SAF is already compatible with existing plane fleets, so no engine modifications would be needed to accommodate the biofuel.

United CEO Scott Kirby, said in a statement »

Today’s SAF flight is not only a significant milestone for efforts to decarbonize our industry, but when combined with the surge in commitments to produce and purchase alternative fuels, we’re demonstrating the scalable and impactful way companies can join together and play a role in addressing the biggest challenge of our lifetimes.

United Airlines has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050 without relying on carbon offsets.

World Energy produced the SAF for the flight.

Elsewhere » Travel and Leisure / Grist / Green Car Congress

Video » Rolls-Royce’s “Spirit of Innovation” electric plane breaks the world record, reaching a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph)

Video below ⤵️

Rolls-Royce Press Release »

We believe our all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft is the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft, setting three new world records. We have submitted data to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) – the World Air Sports Federation who control and certify world aeronautical and astronautical records – that at 15:45 (GMT) on 16 November 2021, the aircraft reached a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph) over 3 kilometres, smashing the existing record by 213.04 km/h (132mph). In further runs at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down experimental aircraft testing site, the aircraft achieved 532.1km/h (330 mph) over 15 kilometres – 292.8km/h (182mph) faster than the previous record – and broke the fastest time to climb to 3000 metres by 60 seconds with a time of 202 seconds, according to our data. We hope that the FAI will certify and officially confirm the achievements of the team in the near future.
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Wright Electric aims to be flying all-electric plane by 2027

Wright Spirit

Customers are demanding cleaner options,” said Wright Electric CEO Jeffrey Engler, “and we want to show there is an alternative.”

Charlotte Ryan, Bloomberg »

An all-electric plane capable of carrying 100 people may be available within six years, significantly accelerating the timeline for the introduction of a non-kerosene powered commercial airliner.

U.S. startup Wright Electric Inc. plans to retrofit electric motors into a BAe 146 regional aircraft originally manufactured by BAE Systems Plc, replacing its four jet engines and transforming it into a zero-emissions model.

Wright plans to build a fleet of the converted planes, which will have a range of about one hour or 460 miles, while using the revamped model — renamed the Spirit — as a stepping stone toward a previously planned clean-paper aircraft a few years later, Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Engler said in an interview.

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Are green(er) jet fuels ready for takeoff?

Wired »

Each engine burned about 600 gallons during the flight, according to United, and created about the same carbon emissions (12,660 pounds). But because the sustainable fuel is made from plant-based sources instead of petroleum, and because plants consume carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, it has a carbon footprint that’s about 70 percent smaller.

“What we were trying to do is demonstrate that the aircraft can operate in the same capacity with sustainable fuel as with blended fuel,” says Lauren Riley, United’s managing director for global environmental affairs and sustainability. “It did. This is a true step in the path of decarbonization.”

Imagine sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, as part of a big plant-fuel-engine carbon recycling loop, rather than a one-way ticket that sends carbon from a subterranean oil patch directly to the atmosphere. In fact, federal government and industry estimates hold that using SAF can reduce lifetime carbon emissions from 50 to 80 percent depending on the feedstock and type of energy used during manufacturing. The Houston test flight was the first time a commercial aircraft ran at least one engine on 100 percent SAF, which is currently limited to a 50/50 blend on passenger flights.

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Also » United Airlines flies first commercial jet on sustainable fuel from IAH » Huston Chronicle

Alaska Airlines and ZeroAvia developing hydrogen powertrain for 76-seat zero-emission aircraft

ZeroAvia and Alaska Airlines issued joint statements that they are are collaborating to develop a hydrogen-electric powertrain capable of flying 76-seat regional aircraft in excess of 500 Nautical Miles.

Alaska and ZeroAvia engineers will work together to scale ZeroAvia’s existing powertrain platform to produce the ZA2000, an engine family capable of producing between 2,000 and 5,000 kilowatts of power with a 500-mile range.

The partnership will initially deploy ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric propulsion technology into a full-size De Havilland Q400 aircraft, previously operated by Alaska Air Group subsidiary Horizon Air Industries, Inc., capable of transporting 76 passengers.

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