MIAMI – Air France-KLM (AF) joined forces with Total Petroleum Group, Aeroport de Paris (ADP) Group, and Airbus to operate the first long-haul flight using Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) produced in France.

The flight, AF342 operated by an Airbus 350, took off on May 18 at 15:40 from Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) with destination Montreal (YUL) with its fuel tanks filled by SAF which is a blend of conventional aviation fuel (JET-A1) and bio-jet fuel made from waste and residue sourced from the circular economy (animal fat, used cooking oil, etc.).

Biojet fuel has similar properties to JET-A1 and produces up to 90% fewer COemissions over its lifecycle compared with the fossil equivalent.

The SAF used for this flight has been manufactured, out of used cooking oil, in the Total bio-refinery of la Mede in Southern France and in the Le Havre Oudalle factory. The fuel was produced by using waste and residues without using any virgin plant-based oil.

The airline and its partners are opening the way for innovation on fuels and environmental transition so as to meet French legislation, which calls for aircraft to use at least 1% SAF by 2022 for all flights originating in France, ahead of the European Green Deal ambition set to gradually increase to 2% by 2025, and 5% by 2030.

Air France F-HTYB Airbus A350-941. Photo: Brad Tisdel/Airways

The Airbus A350

The Airbus A350 used for the flight consumes 25% less fuel than its predecessors. Moreover, the aircraft was serviced by the first 100% all-electric refueling truck, developed in France with Total expertise, and all of the ground support equipment used by AF was fully electric powered.

AF-KLM has pioneered in testing sustainable aviation fuels. KLM (KL) made its first SAF-powered flight in 2009 and the Group has continued to multiply the number of innovations by carrying out 78 AF flights powered by a 10% SAF blend, in collaboration with a Total affiliate, between the years 2014 and 2016.

The tests proved that the use of SAF has no incidence on the reliability of airlines operations and Airbus is conducting a series of tests to achieve certification of a 100% SAF aircraft in the coming years. Airbus has also installed SAF refueling stations at its industrial facilities to be used in production operations or for aircraft deliveries and so contributing to its ambition to decarbonize all of its industrial operations.

Air France F-HTYD Airbus A350-900. Photo: Tony Bordelais/Airways

Comments from Air France-KLM

Benjamin Smith, AF-KLM CEO commented on this first flight by saying, “For many years, the Air France-KLM Group has been committed to reducing its environmental footprint. Together with the renewal of our fleet, sustainable aviation fuels constitute our main lever in the medium-term for reducing our CO2 emissions per passenger/km by half by 2030.”

He continued, “These two actions are therefore central to our strategy, alongside eco-piloting and achieving carbon-neutral ground operations. France currently has the opportunity to position itself as a leader in the production and use of sustainable fuels and we are doing everything possible to contribute to this with our partners. Supporting the emergence of an economically viable French aviation biofuel sector for all the parties involved is a strategic priority for the country and the group.”

Featured image: Air France Airbus 350-900 F-HTYA. Photo: Casey Groulx/Airways