MIAMI – In a press release Friday, Boeing says it is setting an ambitious target by committing that its commercial airplanes will be capable and certified to fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuels by 2030. The company has conducted successful test flights during which 100% sustainable fuels replaced petroleum jet fuel, to address the urgent challenge of climate change.
According to several scientific studies, sustainable aviation fuels reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% over the fuel’s life cycle with the potential to reach 100% in the future. Today, sustainable aviation fuels are mixed directly with conventional jet fuel up to a 50/50 blend — the maximum allowed under current fuel specifications.
To meet aviation’s commitment for reducing carbon emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2050, airplanes need the capability to fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuels well before 2050.
Boeing’s goal – which requires advances to jet systems, raising fuel-blending requirements, and safety certification by global regulators – is central to a broader industry target of slashing carbon emissions in half by 2050, the planemaker said.
“It’s a tremendous challenge, it’s the challenge of our lifetime,” Boeing Director of Sustainability Strategy Sean Newsum told Reuters. “Aviation is committed to doing its part to reduce its carbon footprint.”
Commercial flying currently accounts for about 2% of global carbon emissions and about 12% of transport emissions, according to data cited by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).
Comments from Boeing
“Our industry and customers are committed to addressing climate change. Sustainable aviation fuels are the safest and most measurable solution to reduce aviation carbon emissions in the coming decades,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal. “We’re committed to working with regulators, engine companies, and other key stakeholders to ensure our airplanes and eventually our industry can fly entirely on sustainable jet fuels.”
Boeing’s challenge is to determine what changes its current and future commercial airplanes require to fly on 100% sustainable fuels, and to work with regulatory authorities and across the industry to raise the blending limit for expanded use.
Starting in 2008, Boeing worked with airlines, engine manufacturers, and others to conduct biofuel test flights and gained approval for sustainable fuels in 2011. In 2018, the Boeing ecoDemonstrator flight-test program made the world’s first commercial airplane flight using 100% sustainable fuels with a Boeing 777 Freighter, in collaboration with FedEx Express.
Sustainable aviation fuels are made from a wide variety of feedstocks, including non-edible plants, agricultural and forestry waste, non-recyclable household waste, industrial plant off-gassing, and other sources.
Sustainability of the fuels is assured through strong, credible sustainability certifications through third-party organizations such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials.
Information on Boeing’s sustainability commitments can be found at www.boeing.com/sustainability.
Featured image: Biofuels initiative. Photo: Boeing