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Boeing’s 777X departs on its maiden test flight (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Boeing Commits To Enabling Jets To Fly On 100% Sustainable Fuel by 2030

U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing has announced a very challenging and important target that it is setting for itself. By the end of this decade, the company wants to make sure that all the aircraft being manufactured at its facilities will be able to fly using 100% sustainable fuels.

Boeing has been conducting experiments to test different substances that can be used as fuel, all of them originating from organic sources which can contribute to a reduction of up to 80% of the carbon dioxide emissions during the product life cycle. This means that while aircraft emissions will not decrease while the fuel is being burned by engines to generate thrust, the production of these alternative fuels will involve CO2-negative processes that will balance the emissions generated by flights.

Boeing is also committed to improving the efficiency of jets’ entire life cycles to make them 100% carbon neutral, a target that will require advances to jet systems, lobbying to modify regulations that at the moment require the use of at least 50% of fossil fuels in the blend approved for commercial aircraft and pursuing global certifications with industry regulators worldwide.

“Our industry and customers are committed to addressing climate change, and sustainable aviation fuels are the safest and most measurable solution to reduce aviation carbon emissions in the coming decades,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal in a press release. “We’re committed to working with regulators, engine companies and other key stakeholders to ensure our airplanes and eventually our industry can fly entirely on sustainable jet fuels.”

Technological Advancements

According to the manufacturer, sustainable aviation fuels can be made from a wide variety of feedstocks, including non-edible plants, agricultural and forestry waste, non-recyclable household waste, industrial plant off-gassing and other sources. Sustainability of the fuels, Boeing says, is assured through strong, credible sustainability certifications through third-party organizations such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials.

Boeing has already started offering its customers the option of powering their commercial airplane delivery flights with sustainable aviation fuels from its Puget Sound delivery centers in Seattle and Everett. This fuel is produced by World Energy at one of its refineries in Paramount, Calif. and is made from agricultural waste and can be blended with traditional fuel without modifications to commercial aircraft.

Research on sustainable aviation fuel has been in progress for well over a decade and has tested several solutions throughout the years. Boeing has already completed the first test flight performed using 100% sustainable fuel in 2018 with a 777 Freighter operated in cooperation with FedEx.

Research has been focused on exploring opportunities provided by plants that cannot be used for human consumptions and that are able to grow in areas that are not suitable for traditional agricultural use. While the science behind the production of renewable fuels is already sound, the main problem that needs to be resolved is the scalability of these processes so that industrial quantities of these fuels can be sustainably produced to be used by the aviation industry.

Vanni Gibertini
Vanni Gibertini
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