At Airbus, we believe sustainable aviation fuel is one of the aerospace industry’s best decarbonisation solutions that can be used in both in-service fleets and the aircraft of tomorrow.

A “drop-in” fuel for immediate emissions reduction

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is a carbon-reduction solution that is available for use in aircraft and helicopters operating today. It is a “drop-in” fuel blended with up to 50% conventional jet fuel, requiring no aircraft modifications. SAF can reduce lifecycle CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional fuel. 

There are a variety of SAF technologies based on different feedstock sources. Biomass, which is renewable organic material coming from plants and animals, and various wastes and residues are the most common sources of feedstock for SAF. These include:

  • Used fat, oil and grease
  • Municipal waste
  • Agricultural and forestry waste and residues

Alternative sources synthesised with green hydrogen can produce SAF through power-to-liquid (PtL) technology, known as eFuels. Sources can include captured carbon (for example from Direct Air Carbon Capture technology) and waste gases from industrial processes.

Seven different pathways are certified by standards agency ASTM International to produce SAF for use in commercial aviation. Sustainable aviation fuel based on the Hydrotreated Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA) pathway is one of the most commonly used and commercially-available products today. 

A key driver to achieve the industry’s net-zero ambition

Since 2011, SAF has powered more than 450,000 commercial flights around the world. However, global SAF production represents 0.03% of fuel use (based on pre-pandemic numbers) and in 2021, was less than 1% of operated flights. 

An expected production capacity would need to reach 449 billion litres encouraged through incentives and long-term policies that encourage SAF use in order to achieve the industry’s long-term aspirational goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Airbus supports the large-scale development of the SAF ecosystem. For over a decade, we have been actively involved in the certification process for new fuel pathways, demonstration projects and flights, as well as SAF political advocacy. 

At Airbus Helicopters, advocacy initiatives have resulted in the creation of the SAF User Group, which is dedicated to the rotorwing community. The objective of this group is to collectively work on ways to accelerate the use of blended SAF for helicopters.

 

Towards certification of 100% SAF by 2030

All Airbus aircraft and helicopters are capable of flying with up to a 50% blend of SAF. Our goal is to enable 100% SAF capability by 2030 for commercial and military aircraft and for helicopters. 

Since 2021, we have undertaken a variety of research programmes to test the compatibility of unblended SAF with aircraft and helicopter engine systems. By completing trials with 100% SAF, we are able to demonstrate our aircrafts’ capabilities and confirm the performance of the aircraft with a new type of fuel. This will be of benefit when the industry progresses to certifying this new type of fuel.

Highlights include the following:

An A350 fuelled by 100% SAF just took off

March 2021

First flight of an A350 operating one engine on 100% SAF

The aerial dance of DLR’s Falcon 20E and #A350 operating on 100% SAF

April 2021

Emissions characterisation test of an A350 operating both engines on 100% SAF and followed closely by DLR’s Falcon 20E

A319 100% SAF Flight

October 2021

First flight of an A319neo operating one engine on 100% SAF

H225 Sustainable Aviation Fuel 100% first flightH225 Sustainable Aviation Fuel 100% first flight

November 2021

First flight of an Airbus H225 operating one engine on 100% SAF

On 25 March, the A380 took off with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel from Blagnac Airport in Toulouse.

March 2022

First flight of an A380 operating one engine on 100% SAF

June 2022

First flight of an H225 operating both engines on 100% SAF

July 2022

First flight of an A400M operating one engine on 29% SAF

October 2022

First flight of a C295 operating on one engine on 29% SAF

November 2022

First flight of an A330 MRTT operating both engines on 100% SAF

SAF to decarbonise aircraft deliveries and transport operations

In 2016, we were proud to become the first aircraft manufacturer to offer customers the option of delivering new aircraft powered by a blend of SAF. Since then, we have delivered aircraft and helicopters with SAF onboard from delivery centres in Toulouse and Marignane in France, Hamburg and Donauworth in Germany, Mobile in the USA, and most recently Tianjin, China.

Latest news

Sustainability
Airbus and Neste join forces on SAF development to decarbonise aerospace
Airbus and Neste, a world-leading producer of renewable fuels, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly advance the production and uptake of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Both parties share a vision that SAF is a key solution to helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions of air travel. This collaboration aims to accelerate the aviation sector’s transition to SAF.
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Defence
Airbus A330MRTT completes first 100% SAF test flight on both engines
The Royal Air Force, Airbus and other industry partners have carried out the world’s first 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) flight using an in-service military aircraft. It is also the first 100% SAF flight of any aircraft type carried out in UK airspace.
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Sustainability
Airbus and partners facilitate SAF commercial flights in China
Airbus has signed agreements with Xiamen Airlines, Zhejiang Loong Airlines and Colorful Guizhou Airlines to promote the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for commercial flights in China. The partnership was announced during the Airbus Press Conference at the 14th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition. With these agreements, Airbus and Airbus’ Chinese operators further support the green aviation strategy in China.
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New energy ecosystem

Accelerating high-potential pathways through impactful partnerships