Business aviation leaders unite to fuel the future

Ahead of the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) which is taking place this week in Geneva, business aviation leaders gathered at TAG Farnborough Airport on Saturday 18 May to discuss the path forward for the continued adoption of sustainable aviation jet fuel (SAJF) in Europe.

During the gathering, the global coalition of business aviation organisations behind the SAJF initiative called fro increased collaboration and the broader adoption and availability of sustainable fuel across the industry. Air BP’s biojet commercial development manager, Tom Parsons, stated that “while there is plenty of noise in the commercial aviation space about SAJF, there is now an opportunity for business aviation to lead the way.”

The industry’s commitment to emissions reduction centres around three primary goals: A 2% improvement in fuel efficiency per year from 2010 until 2020; carbon neutral growth from 2020 onwards; and a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, relative to 2005. These goals will be achieved through advancements across four pillars: more efficient operations; continuing infrastructure improvements; market-based measures; and technology, including the development of alternative aircraft fuels.

“As the first business aviation airport in the world to achieve certified carbon neutrality, we are proud to e hosting and participating in today’s event and welcome this initiative to provide SAJF,” said Brandon O’Reilly, CEO of TAG Farnborough Airport during his opening address. “Along with our customers, we are eager to see efficient and cost-effective availability of this fuel.”

The event clearly demonstrated three key points: SAJF is safe and does not impact aircraft performance; it offers benefits to both the airport supplying it and the community; and it reflects the commitment by business aviation to aircraft carbon reduction.

Also speaking at the gathering, EUROCONTROL director general, Eamonn Brennan, stated that “sustainable aviation fuels alongside engine technology improvements are key to aviation minimising its carbon footprint.” He added that with no alternative to liquid fuel in the near and mid-term, “SAJF offers the most promising near-term option  for business aviation aircraft.”

However, Brennan also underlined that “the cost of production is still too high for aircraft operators.” The challenge going forward is to establish clear long-term policy frameworks and find a way of funding transition costs of what is essentially a huge technological change in order to achieve the ICAO 2050 vision for sustainable aviation fuels.

Complementing Brennan’s thoughts, Keith Sawyer, manager of alternative fuels for Avfuel Corporation, expressed his delight with “the demonstrative progress made so far this year to prove SAJF can become a viable option for the industry.” He also noted that Avfuel’s team is working to “secure greater SAJF supply to champion one of the largest hurdles yet to the initiative – availability – along with securing operator commitments for SAJF to encourage production through greater demand.”

Following the event, aircraft from major manufactuers, including Bombardier, Gulfstream, Cirrus, Embraer, Piaggio, Dassault and Textron Aviation, fuelled up on SAJF at airports across Europe and the US, including TAG Farnborough in the UK, Caen-Carpiquet Airport in France, Stockholm Arlanda in Sweden, Republic Airport, Farmingdale in New York for demonstration flights showcasing the viability of sustainable alternative jet fuel.

This year’s EBACE celebrated a record number of arrivals fuelled by SAJF. Twenty three aircraft arrived at Geneva Airport using alternative fuels with most flying from Farnborough.

“This week’s record-setting EBACE SAJF Fly-In is a milestone in business aviation’s commitment to sustainability and reducing carbon emissions,” said EBAA Chairman of the Board of Governors Juergen Wiese. “We are proud that Europe’s leading business aviation event, which has always showcased innovation, is proving the viability and value of alternative fuels.”

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