As part of a broader push on part of the aviation industry to reduce its carbon footprint, Airbus has conducted the first ever flight of its giant A380 jumbo jet using 100 percent biofuel. This is the third Airbus aircraft to fly using the sustainable fuel made up of primarily cooking oil, as the company works to certify the technology by the end of the decade.
The aircraft featured in the groundbreaking flight is the Airbus ZEROe Demonstrator, an A380 adapted for use as a flying testbed and one the company plans to also use to test out hydrogen combustion jet engines.
For this particular outing, the aircraft was loaded up with 27 tonnes of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), made mostly with cooking oil and waste fats. This powered the A380’s Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine across a three-hour test flight out of the Blagnac Airport in Toulouse France on March 28, with a second flight then carrying it all the way to Nice Airport on March 29.
This demonstration follows successful flights of the Airbus A350 and the Airbus A319neo single-aisle plane using SAF last year. Using the biofuel to now power the world’s largest passenger jet marks another step forward for the testing program, as Airbus aspires to bring the world’s first zero-emission aircraft to market by 2035.
Airbus isn’t alone in pursuing cleaner aviation with the help of cooking oil. Way back in 2012, Boeing made the first biofuel-powered Pacific crossing in its 787 Dreamliner using a mix of regular jet fuel and fuel derived mainly from cooking oil. In 2014, it even opened up a biofuel production plant in China based to ensure a consistent supply.
In emphasizing the potential of SAF, Airbus refers to the Waypoint 2050 report put together by collaboration of aviation experts to outline how the industry can achieve decarbonization by midway through the century. That report identifies the deploying of SAF as the single largest opportunity to meet these goals, with the potential to deliver between 53 and 71 percent of the required carbon reductions.
As it stands, all of Airbus’ aircraft are certified to fly with a 50 percent SAF-kerosene blend. Airbus aims to achieve certification for 100 percent SAF use by the end of the decade.
Nick has been writing and editing at New Atlas for over six years, where he has covered everything from distant space probes to self-driving cars to oddball animal science. He previously spent time at The Conversation, Mashable and The Santiago Times, earning a Masters degree in communications from Melbourne’s RMIT University along the way.
SAF is a biofuel used to power aircraft that has similar properties to conventional jet fuel but with a smaller carbon footprint. Depending on the feedstock and technologies used to produce it, SAF can reduce life cycle GHG emissions dramatically compared to conventional jet fuel. Some emerging SAF pathways even have a net-negative GHG footprint.
SAFs lower carbon intensity makes it an important solution for reducing aviation GHGs, which make up 9%–12% of U.S. transportation GHG emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
An estimated 1 billion dry tons of biomass can be collected sustainably each year in the United States, enough to produce 50–60 billion gallons of low-carbon biofuels. These resources include:
Other fats, oils, and greases
Wood mill waste
Municipal solid waste streams
Wet wastes (manures, wastewater treatment sludge)
Dedicated energy crops.
This vast resource contains enough feedstock to meet the projected fuel demand of the U.S. aviation industry, additional volumes of drop-in low carbon fuels for use in other modes of transportation, and produce high-value bioproducts and renewable chemicals.
Growing, sourcing, and producing SAF from renewable and waste resources can create new economic opportunities in farming communities, improve the environment, and even boost aircraft performance.
By growing biomass crops for SAF production, American farmers can earn more money during off seasons by providing feedstocks to this new market, while also securing benefits for their farms like reducing nutrient losses and improving soil quality.Biomass crops can control erosion and improve water quality and quantity.
They can also increase biodiversity and store carbon in the soil, which can deliver on-farm benefits and environmental benefits across the country. Producing SAF from wet wastes, like manure and sewage sludge, reduces pollution pressure on watersheds, while also keeping potent methane gas—a key contributor to climate change—out of the atmosphere.
Qatar Airways has committed to order up to 50 Boeing777-8 freighter jets, including 34 firm orders and options for 16 additional planes, in a total purchase worth more than $20 billion at current list prices.
The order, which marks the largest freighter commitment in Boeing history by value, will support hundreds of U.S. suppliers from across 38 states, sustain more than 35,000 U.S. jobs and provide an annual estimated economic impact of $2.6 billion during the contract’s delivery period, according to Boeing.
Boeing will build the 777-8 Freighter in its Everett, Washington, factory, with the first delivery expected in 2027. The aircraft will include GE9X engines produced by GE Aviation. With a range of 4,410 nautical miles, the 777-8 Freighter has a maximum structural payload of 118 tonnes, allowing customers to make fewer stops and reduce landing fees on long-haul routes.
Boeing and Qatar Airways signed a letter of intent to purchase five 777 Freighters, valued at $1.7 billion at list prices, on Jan. 31, 2022. This rendering shows the airplane in the carrier’s livery. (Boeing illustration)
As part of the agreement, Qatar Airways will convert 20 of its 60 777X family orders to the 777-8 Freighter and order two of Boeing’s current 777 freighters.
In addition, the companies signed a memorandum of understanding for an order of up to 50 Boeing 737-10 aircraft, including 25 firm orders and options for 25 additional planes, for a total value of nearly $7 billion at current list prices.
Monday’s announcement covers up to 102 airplanes total with a list price value of approximately $34 billion inclusive of engines.
The deal was solidified during a formal signing ceremony at the White House on Monday by Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal and Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker. Other officials in attendance included Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun and Qatar’s ambassador to the U.S., Sheikh Mishaal bin Hamad Al Thani.
Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker and Boeing’s Kevin McAllister sign a memorandum of understanding for five Boeing 777 Freighters in the presence of the Qatari Minister of Finance and Qatar Airways Chairman Ali Sharif Al Emadi (left) and Qatar a (Boeing)
“The Biden administration has prioritized the revitalization of our manufacturing economy. This investment from our friends in Qatar represents another step toward fulfilling that priority,” Raimondo said in a statement. “It means good jobs right here in America, billions of dollars more in exports, and a much-needed boost to America’s manufacturing sector.”
Raimondo added that the deal “underscores the importance of revitalizing America’s semiconductor industry.”
“Each of these aircraft will require an enormous amount of chips, which is why the administration is urging Congress to put a semiconductor bill on President Biden’s desk as soon as possible,” she said.
Qatar Airways’ move comes less than two weeks after Airbus ended its contract for 50 A321neo planes, a direct competitor to Boeing’s Max jets, amid a months-long dispute over cracked paint and other issues on its A350 planes. Boeing shares surged on news of the order.
The Boeing 747 is an American wide-body commercial jet airliner and cargo aircraft, often referred to by its original nickname, “Jumbo Jet”. Its distinctive hump upper deck along the forward part of the aircraft has made it one of the most recognizable aircraft, and it was the first wide-body airplane produced. Manufactured by Boeing‘s Commercial Airplane unit in the United States, the 747 was originally envisioned to have 150 percent greater capacity than the Boeing 707, a common large commercial aircraft of the 1960s. First flown commercially in 1970, the 747 held the passenger capacity record for 37 years.
The four-engine 747 uses a double-deck configuration for part of its length and is available in passenger, freighter and other versions. Boeing designed the 747’s hump-like upper deck to serve as a first–class lounge or extra seating, and to allow the aircraft to be easily converted to a cargo carrier by removing seats and installing a front cargo door. Boeing expected supersonic airliners—the development of which was announced in the early 1960s—to render the 747 and other subsonic airliners obsolete, while the demand for subsonic cargo aircraft would remain robust well into the future…..