United Airlines operates 100 percent sustainable fuel commercial flight

The flight operated from Chicago's O'Hare airport to Washington on a new United 737 MAX 8 and used 500 gallons of SAF in one engine and the same amount of conventional jet fuel in the other engine to further prove there are no operational differences between the two.

United Airlines operates 100 percent sustainable fuel commercial flight
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The US-based carrier United Airlines on Wednesday made aviation history by operating the first-ever commercial flight on 100 per cent sustainable fuel in one of two engines.

The flight operated from Chicago's O'Hare airport to Washington D.C.’s Reagan National Airport on a new United 737 MAX 8 and used 500 gallons of SAF in one engine and the same amount of conventional jet fuel in the other engine to further prove there are no operational differences between the two.

Currently, airlines are only permitted to use a maximum of 50 per cent SAF on board. The SAF used the flight is drop-in ready and compatible with existing aircraft fleets.

United supports the development of SAF, an alternative fuel made with non-petroleum feedstocks, already having agreements to purchase nearly twice as much SAF as the known agreements of all other global airlines combined.

“United continues to lead from the front when it comes to climate change action,” said United CEO Scott Kirby, who will fly onboard the historic SAF flight. “The 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 are demonstrating the scalable and impactful way companies can join together and play a role in addressing the biggest challenge of our lifetimes.”

Also, United announced the second round of corporate participants in the airline’s Eco-Skies Alliance program to collectively contribute towards the purchase of SAF.

United’s Eco-Skies Alliance program was launched in April 2021 and now has collectively contributed toward the purchase of more than 7 million gallons of SAF this year alone. Including the newly announced participants, the program has nearly 30 participants including companies like DHL Global Forwarding, HP Inc. and Nike.

Yusen Logistics, one of the new participants in Eco-Skies Alliance program will promote the use of SAF by United Airlines from January 2022.

“Yusen Logistics aims to become a company that grows sustainably together with our customers. Connecting with United Eco-Skies Alliance program brings us confidence and pride to create diverse values and collaborate with our stakeholders for a greener future. We offer more carbon reduction services to our society and continuously commit to tackling global climate change through logistics,” said Toru Kamiyama, President and CEO, Yusen Logistics.

United is operating this unprecedented flight in partnership with Boeing, CFM International, Virent – a subsidiary of Marathon – whose technology enables 100 per cent drop-in SAF, and World Energy – the world’s first and North America’s only commercial SAF producer. United’s Kirby will be joined by executives from each of those companies on today’s flight along with other business leaders, government officials, NGOs and members of the media.

“As an industry, we are committed to addressing climate change, and sustainable aviation fuels are the most measurable solution to reduce aviation carbon emissions in the coming decades. No one entity can decarbonize aviation alone and it will require partnerships like this to ensure aviation is safe and sustainable for future generations,” said Ihssane Mounir, senior vice president of Sales And Marketing, The Boeing Company.

“Virent’s proprietary technology demonstrates that SAF can be 100 per cent renewable and 100 per cent compatible with our current aviation fleet and infrastructure,” said Dave Kettner, president and general counsel, Virent.

“When we fly, we connect, and our demand for the connections aviation makes possible are only going to grow. But we need to develop affordable, high-energy density, low-carbon liquid fuels at scale everywhere to allow those connections to be made sustainably. The pioneering work is the hardest work, and United has been with us from the very start. The flight path ahead will require tremendous teamwork,” said Gene Gebolys, CEO of World Energy.

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