Etihad Airways claims to have reduced CO2 emissions by 72% on a London-Abu Dhabi flight using a combination of initiatives that have highlighted some of the challenges ahead if the widespread adoption of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in particular must become a reality.
The October 23 special flight was part of Etihad’s Greenliner program – a two-year partnership between the airline and Boeing that uses the Premier’s 787 fleet as a test bed for sustainability improvements in partnership with d ‘other organizations.
Overall, the service operated by the 787-10 reduced CO2 emissions by 39,000 kg and fuel consumption by 1,800 kg, according to Etihad, compared to an equivalent flight in 2019. It also points out, however , that flight number EY20 highlighted some of the current barriers to widespread use of FAS, which most industry roadmaps say is crucial if the airline industry is to achieve net zero emissions of CO2 by 2050.
“It is well known that SAFs are a credible alternative to current fossil fuels, but they are currently very expensive and difficult to find and load on the plane,” said Mohammad Al Bulooki, chief operating officer of Etihad. Aviation Group. “EY20 was a dramatic example of those constraints where Etihad was unable to load the 38% SAF mixture directly onto the aircraft due to constraints inherent in the Heathrow airport infrastructure.
“Instead, the SAF purchased by Etihad was loaded into the hydrant system, which serves all users at the airport.”
This meant that the flight did not directly benefit from the 38% SAF mixture intended for it.
Etihad suggests that the aviation industry and governments “must work together to address these issues by funding research and development for SAFs and other parts of flight planning and operations.”
He further notes that his biggest learning point from the two-year Greenliner program “has been that even when solutions are available, they are not easily deployed on a regular basis due to constraints across the entire ecosystem of the industry. ‘aviation”.
Etihad says he intends to work with industry partners to overcome this challenge.
Other initiatives used to reduce emissions from the October 23 flight included sustainable in-flight products, optimized flight routes calculated with the support of air traffic management, new-technology cockpit tools and management processes. optimized airport processing.
In addition, passengers were encouraged to minimize baggage weight and the engines were cleaned before the flight.
Drag reduction measures were also enacted, which Etihad said was a first for a commercial service.
Together with UK-based SATAVIA, Etihad has identified potential areas of ice-supersaturated regions in the atmosphere where harmful contrails are likely to form, and the flight route has been adjusted to avoid these areas. . Etihad says that based on the original and adjusted flight plan, the strategy avoided the production of around 64 tons of CO2, with a fuel penalty of just 100 kg, or 0.48 tons of CO2.
Overall, Al Bulooki describes the flight efficiency savings as “remarkable”.
“When Etihad committed to achieving net zero, it was recognized that this was only possible if the airline worked collaboratively and positively with our industry partners,” he said. . “This is exactly what Etihad did with sustainable flight. Equally important, Etihad, Boeing and its partners – airports, ANSPs and suppliers – used the flight to find out where further improvements could be made. “
Etihad appoints a number of these partners, including NATS, Eurocontrol, GE Aviation, Vitol, SATAVIA, deSter, Sola The Netherlands, ButterflyCup, Agthia, Jubail Island Mangroves and DNata Catering.
“Each of these partners has played their own important role in the step we have taken today,” the airline says.
His comments join those of IATA CEO Willie Walsh at the association’s AGM in early October, when he said that “the cost and effort to break our industry’s dependence on Not all fossil fuels can be the responsibility of airlines alone. “