Airbus, Boeing, Embraer collaborate on Aviation Biofuel Commercialisation

Accelerating availability is key pillar of industry’s sustainable growth strategy

22 March 2012 Press Release

EADS / Airbus, Boeing and Embraer today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together on the development of drop-in, affordable aviation biofuels. The three leading airframe manufacturers agreed to seek collaborative opportunities to speak in unity to government, biofuel producers and other key stakeholders to support, promote and accelerate the availability of sustainable new jet fuel sources.

Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Jim Albaugh, and Embraer Commercial Aviation President Paulo César Silva, signed the agreement at the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) Aviation and Environment Summit in Geneva.

“We’ve achieved a lot in the last ten years in reducing our industry’s CO2 footprint - a 45 percent traffic growth with only three percent more fuel consumption,” said Tom Enders. The production and use of sustainable quantities of aviation biofuels is key to meeting our industry's ambitious CO2 reduction targets and we are helping to do this through R+T, our expanding network of worldwide value chains and supporting the EU commission towards its target of four per cent of biofuel for aviation by 2020."

"Innovation, technology and competition push our respective products to the highest levels of performance,” said Jim Albaugh. “Through our common vision of lessening aviation’s environmental impacts, and our collective efforts to develop sustainable fuels, we can accelerate their availability and do the right thing for the planet we share."

"We are all committed to take a leading role in the development of technology programs that will facilitate aviation biofuels development and actual application faster than if we were doing it independently," said Paulo César Silva, Embraer President, Commercial Aviation. “Few people know that Brazil´s well known automotive biofuels program started within our aeronautical research community, back in the seventies, and we will keep on making history."

The collaboration agreement supports the industry’s multi-pronged approach to continuously reduce the industry’s carbon emissions. Continuous innovation, spurred by competitive market dynamics that push each manufacturer to continuously improve product performance, and air traffic modernization, are other critical elements to achieving carbon-neutral growth beyond 2020 and halving industry emissions by 2050 based on 2005 levels.

“Having these three aviation leaders set aside their competitive differences and work together in support of biofuel development, underscores the importance and focus the industry is placing on sustainable practices,” said ATAG Executive Director Paul Steele. “Through these types of broad industry collaboration agreements, aviation is doing all it can to drive measurable reductions in carbon emissions, while continuing to provide strong global economic and social value.” 

All three companies are affiliate members of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (www.safug.org), which includes 23 leading airlines responsible for approximately 25 percent of annual aviation fuel use.

Value chains bring together farmers, refiners, airlines and lawmakers to speed up the commercialisation of sustainable biofuels. So far Airbus value chains have been established in Brazil, Qatar, Romania, Spain and Australia and the target is to have one in every continent. Aviation has limited alternatives to biofuel, so Airbus believes that energy types should be prioritised according to transport use.”

EADS Innovation Works leads the EADS group biofuel research. The MoU includes the development of industry open standards and methodologies to assess energy and carbon lifecycles.

Airbus, Boeing and Embraer are active around the globe in helping to establish regional supply chains, while the three manufacturers have all supported numerous biofuel flights since global fuel standards bodies granted their approval for commercial use in 2011.