An Embraer (NYSE: ERJ) E195-E2 medium-range airliner has successfully completed a flight test with one engine burning 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel.
Engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney partnered in the demonstration, which included two days of ground testing at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale International Airport (KFLL) and a 70-minute flight at nearby Vero Beach Regional Airport (KVRB). The aircraft powerplants for the flight were twin Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan (GTF) engines.
Both companies say their engines and aircraft are certified to operate with up to 50 percent SAF blends. This test aimed to demonstrate that pure SAF—which is made from sustainable materials such as used cooking oil and non-fossil fuel feedstocks—can be an effective fuel source for airlines.
“Replacement of older aircraft by new-generation products and scaling up SAF production are the two most effective actions commercial aviation can take now to achieve a significant reduction in emissions,” said Rodrigo Silva e Souza, vice president of strategy and sustainability, Embraer Commercial Aviation, in a statement. “This test demonstrates that the E2 is ready for 100 percent SAF certification and operation once the industry finalizes standards.”
Testing Across Many Aircraft Types
The Embraer flight test is the latest of several SAF viability demonstrations by major aviation companies, including Airbus, Boeing, and ATR. Last week in Germany, Airbus completed its first helicopter flight powered by SAF.
Neste, a Finnish SAF refiner, collaborated this month with aircraft manufacturer ATR and Swedish airline Braathens Regional Airlines to burn 100 percent SAF on a commercial regional aircraft—an ATR 72-600 turboprop.
Embraer’s announcement comes as airports increasingly offer SAF to their customers. World Fuel Services recently began distributing Neste MY SAF, starting at France’s Paris-Le Bourget Airport (LFPB).
AvFuel has agreed to buy a billion gallons of SAF over the next 20 years as part of a deal with SAF producer Alder Fuels.
Commercial airplanes and large business jets contribute to 10 percent of U.S. transportation emissions and 3 percent of the nation’s total greenhouse gas production, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Worldwide, aviation accounted for as much as 2.4 percent of total CO2 emissions in 2018.
One of the major hurdles to widespread adoption of SAF is producing sufficient supplies. President Biden has challenged aviation industry leaders to create 3 billion gallons of SAF by 2030, setting a goal for a carbon-free U.S. aviation sector by 2050. The White House said it will offer tax incentives to push airlines and other industry stakeholders toward reaching the carbon-free benchmark.