Emirates Test Flies Boeing 777 on Sustainable Fuel

Dubai-based airline Emirates successfully flew a Boeing 777 on a test flight with one engine entirely powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Flight No. EK2646 flew for just under an hour over the coastline of the United Arab Emirates, after taking off from Dubai International Airport and heading out into the Persian Gulf before circling back to land. The fuel powered one of the 777’s two General Electric engines, with the other running on conventional jet fuel for safety.

“This flight is a milestone moment for Emirates and a positive step for our industry as we work collectively to address one of our biggest challenges — reducing our carbon footprint,” Adel al-Redha, Emirates’ chief operation officer, said in a press release.

The SAF demonstration flight is of significance as the UAE has declared 2023 the ‘Year of Sustainability’. The year will showcase the UAE’s commitment to seek innovative solutions to challenges such as energy, climate change and other issues related to sustainability. The flight supports collective industry efforts to enable a future of 100% SAF flying and help advance the UAE’s sustainability objectives.

Emirates’ demonstration flight, the first in the Middle East and North Africa to be powered by 100% SAF, supports broader efforts to reduce lifecycle CO2 emissions as the industry looks to scale up its use of SAF.

Emirates worked alongside partners GE Aerospace, Boeing, Honeywell, Neste and Virent to procure and develop a blend of SAF that closely replicates the properties of conventional jet fuel.

At each blend ratio, a host of chemical and physical fuel property measurements were carried out.  After multiple lab tests and rigorous trials, they arrived at a blending ratio that mirrored the qualities of jet fuel.

Eighteen tonnes of SAF were blended, comprised of HEFA-SPK provided by Neste (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids and synthetic paraffinic kerosene) and HDO-SAK from Virent (hydro deoxygenated synthetic aromatic kerosene). The 100% SAF supplied one GE90 engine, with conventional jet fuel supplying the other engine.

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