Emirates Operates A380 Demonstration Flight With 100% SAF

Daniel Fowkes
23 Nov 2023
· Airlines 
Emirates operates the world's first Airbus A380 demonstration flight with 100% sustainable aviation fuel

Emirates has become the first airline in the world to operate an A380 demonstration flight with the 100% use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

The Dubai-based carrier says there’s a growing global demand for lower-emission jet fuel alternatives.

The airline will try to advance the path to lower carbon emissions from this successful demonstration flight. It believes that a solid relationship with suppliers will make the job smoother, but challenges will still be faced.

The airline celebrated the demonstration flight through a press release with quotes and imagery.

The Landmark Demonstration Flight

Captain Khalid Binsultan and Philippe Lombet led a demonstration flight aboard the A380. The aircraft departed from the airline’s hub of Dubai International.

The major airline says one of the four engines was powered with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel. This allowed the company to demonstrate and highlight its potential.

Carbon emissions can be reduced by up to 85% over the fuel’s life cycle compared to a more conventional method of jet fuel featured today.

The 100% drop-in SAF used on today’s flight includes renewable aromatics and closely mimics the characteristics of conventional jet fuel. This is the first time that drop-in SAF has been used on an A380 aircraft, with the expectation of full compatibility across the aircraft’s existing systems. The flight carried four tonnes of SAF, comprised of HEFA-SPK provided by Neste (hydro processed esters and fatty acids synthetic paraffinic kerosene) and HDO-SAK from Virent (hydro deoxygenated synthetic aromatic kerosene). ENOC helped to secure the neat SAF comprised of HEFA-SPK, and blended it  with Sustainable Aviation Kerosene (SAK) at its facility in Dubai International Airport ahead of the demonstration, and also carried out into-plane services.

Emirates News Release

Demonstration flights are often conducted to highlight and pave the way for future usage of technologies. However, the road to adopting SAF has recently become more pressing. This is thanks to strategies and guidelines being implemented by governments and companies.

Looking At Emirates’ History With SAF

Earlier in 2023, Emirates also completed the first 100% Sustainable Aviation fuel-powered demonstration flight in the region on its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The 777s are equipped with the GE90 engines.

A recent expansion with Neste for the supply of over 3 million gallons of blended SAF will prove essential for flights set to depart from two airports.

Emirates says this will arrive in 2024 and 2025 and be for specific services from Amsterdam Schiphol and Singapore Changi.

In October, Emirates could also operate the first flights with SAF provided by Shell Aviation. Emirates notes Shell has supplied 315,000 gallons for usage across the key hub in Dubai.

Comments From Executives

Seeing Emirates flying an A380, the world’s largest airliner, powered by an engine running on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuels is a symbolic moment. These fuels are the most effective way to address CO2 emissions in the aviation industry today and that they are supported increasingly by the world’s leading airlines. SAF is vital to meeting the sector’s target of net-zero emissions in 2050, but needs the backing of the whole industry. At Airbus, we are working to make all our aircraft 100% SAF-capable by 2030. We’re also working with partners to grow the global SAF market in the coming years. Airbus’s purpose as a company is to pioneer sustainable aerospace for a safe and united world. Through our partnership with Emirates, we’re matching ambition with action.

Julie Kitcher, Airbus Executive Vice President Communications and Corporate Affairs

Emirates is the first passenger airline in the world to operate an A380 with 100% drop-in SAF powering one of four Engine Alliance GP7200 engines. This is another proud moment for Emirates and our partners, as we put words into action with the research into and the trialling of higher concentrations of SAF to eventually lead to industry adoption of 100% SAF flying. This marks another significant step in validating the use of SAF in one of the engines of the A380, a wide-body aircraft with four engines.

Adel Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer, Emirates Airline

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