Renewing a push for carbon neutrality in business aviation operations, a coalition of industry organizations in late May released the “Business Aviation Guide to the Use of Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuel (SAJF),” an overview of emerging alternative fuel options and a roadmap for their development and adoption.
“We’re excited today to announce this next major milestone on reducing emissions,” said EBAA chairman Juergen Wiese, noting widespread support for the industry’s commitment to “reducing our overall environmental footprint.”
The coalition also includes NBAA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the International Business Aviation Council, and the National Air Transportation Association, with technical assistance provided by the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative and the Air Transport Action Group.
NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen cited the business aviation community’s “long and successful history of innovation" and said, "With this initiative, we underscore our effort on what has always been an important priority."
Representing the European Commission, Claudia Fusco, head of its Environmental Knowledge, Eco-innovation & SMEs Unit, said, “We need to spread the voice that alternatives are possible, and to make sure these are used,” adding that “citizens are ready to pay more” for sustainable solutions.
In 2009, the business aviation community set goals to mitigate its impact on climate change that included achieving carbon-neutral growth by 2020, making it “the only industry to have developed internationally agreed carbon emission reduction standards,” the guide notes. But “progress has been uneven over the past eight years,” and SAJF represents the single largest potential reduction in aviation’s greenhouse gas (CHG) emissions.
But “many in the industry have questions about SAJF,” according to the guide, and the document aims to “allay any concerns that our community” has about their safety and performance. It notes that sustainable alternative jet fuels for business aviation are safe, approved, and available now, though in limited quantities; in addition to reducing emissions, SAJF support business aviation’s sustainability as well as corporate responsibility; and the fuels, produced from multiple feedstocks, are sustainable and renewable, representing an environmental win-win.
Currently, OEMs Bombardier, Dassault, Embraer, Gulfstream, and Textron Aviation, and engine manufacturers GE, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney Canada, and Williams International are working to help business jet operators increase their use of SAJF, efforts that have included making high-profile flights using SAJF. Challenges ahead include limited production of SAJF and lack of distribution infrastructure, said David Coleal, chairman of GAMA’s Environmental Committee and president of Bombardier Business Aircraft. He added that the coalition will launch a pilot program to demonstrate the viability of SAJF at select general aviation airports.
At the conclusion of the presentation, coalition members signed a declaration reiterating “their common commitment to creating a pathway that achieves carbon neutrality from 2020 forward,” and calling on “governments around the world to implement the necessary policy framework to encourage and support the full development and commercialization of SAJF.”
The fuels cost a multiple of the price of fossil-based jet fuels but are expected to drop as production ramps up and distribution channels expand. In part due to limited availability, the alternative fuels are currently used as a blend with fossil-based jet fuel.
But their use represents a reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions across the product lifecycle. That means that—even accounting for the emissions produced in growing, harvesting, producing, transporting, and refining a particular feedstock used in its production—SAJF significantly reduces overall CO2 emissions compared to fossil fuels.
As an example of currently achievable reductions, the guide notes a modern large-cabin business jet would produce about 27,787 pounds of CO2 on a 1,000-nm flight; the same flight using a 30 percent SAJF/70 percent jet-A blend would reduce carbon emissions by 18 percent, or 4,100 pounds.