Biofuel has been an aviation buzzword for many years now, and while the use of sustainable alternative jet fuels (SAJF) has made inroads in commercial aviation, many in business aviation wonder when the tide will reach them. Industry fuel provider Avfuel (Booth 2219) believes that day is not far off.
“It will become a reality, and we’re well on our way for business aviation to get its day,” said C.R. Sincock, the Michigan-based company’s managing director of business development, adding that it is working on smoothing out the market introduction hurdles of awareness, cost, availability, and logistics. These are standard considerations when introducing any new product, but are magnified when dealing with a product as highly-regulated as aviation fuel. “Working through such complexities, our goal is to release a product that is both safe and cost effective for business aviation customers," he said.
The industry took a step towards the adoption of SAJF use in May, when the Business Aviation Guide to the Use of Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuel, a multi-organizational effort, was released at EBACE. The document sought to answer many of the questions FBOs and flight departments were asking about the use of these fuels.
Cost of SAJF is another consideration as it currently sells at a higher price than regular jet-A. Avfuel sees the price dropping over the coming years as commercialization increases production. Possible federal and state fuel credit programs could also help counteract the higher price.
As far as availability, SAJF is a highly concentrated product that is blended with standard jet-A to produce a drop-in fuel. Yet that concentrate is not yet available in large enough amounts to serve the entire aviation industry. Avfuel signed an off-take agreement recently with SAJF producer Gevo as its exclusive distributor as it ramps up production, but recognizes more sources will be required.
The logistics of transporting, storing, and blending SAJF represent other challenges that might limit the supply-chain availability in the early years of market introduction. However, Sincock said the industry is making progress towards bringing SAJF to market for business aviation.
“Meetings to form partnerships and discuss strategies for introducing the product into the market are being held on a daily basis,” said Sincock. “Avfuel has a team of experts whose main focus this year has been on securing relationships that will help provide the product in the safest, most cost-effective, and streamlined way possible.”