Airbus has just performed a first flight powered by 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) on an A380 aircraft.
Airbus’ A380 test aircraft MSN 1 took off from the Blagnac Airport, in Toulouse, France, at 08h43 on Friday, 25 March. The flight lasted about three hours, operating one Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine on 100% SAF.
The 27 tonnes of unblended SAF necessary for this flight were provided by Total Energies. The SAF was produced in Normandy, close to Le Havre, France, and was made from Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA), free of aromatics and sulphur, and primarily consisting of used cooking oil, as well as other waste fats. A second flight, with the same aircraft, is scheduled to take place today, from Toulouse to Nice Airport, to further test the use of SAF during take-off and landing.
This is the third Airbus aircraft type to fly on 100% SAF over the course of 12 months. The first was an Airbus A350, in March 2021, followed by an A319neo single-aisle aircraft, in October 2021. An Airbus H225 helicopter also performed the first-ever helicopter flight with 100% SAF in November 2021, powering one of the Safran Makila 2 engines.
All Airbus aircraft are currently certified to fly with up to a 50% blend of SAF mixed with kerosene. Their aim is to achieve certification of 100% SAF by the end of this decade. The H225 helicopter also marked the start of a campaign aiming to assess the impact of unblended SAF on the helicopter systems, in view of certifying the use of SAF blends that exceed the 50% limit for helicopters as well.
The A380 aircraft used during the test is the same aircraft recently revealed as Airbus’ ZEROe Demonstrator – a flying testbed for future technologies instrumental to bringing the world’s first zero-emission aircraft to market by 2035.
Increasing the use of SAF remains a key pathway to achieving the industry’s ambition of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Key statistics outlined in the Waypoint 2050 report indicate that SAF could contribute between 53% and 71% of the required carbon reductions.