Results of World’s 1st In-Flight Study of Commercial Aircraft Using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel is Out and Promising
  • In-flight measurements from an A350 aircraft using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) show a significant reduction in soot particle emissions and formation of contrail ice crystals compared to using conventional aviation fuel
  • Global model simulations estimate 26% reduction in contrails' climate impact when using 100% SAF
The world's first in-flight study of commercial aircraft using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) has is out now and has shown promising results. The study, which involved an Airbus A350 aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, revealed a significant reduction in soot particle emissions and the formation of contrail ice crystals when compared to conventional Jet A-1 fuel.

The Emission and Climate Impact of Alternative Fuels (ECLIF3) study, in which Airbus, Rolls-Royce, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and SAF producer Neste collaborated, was the first to measure the impact of 100% SAF use to emissions from both engines of an Airbus A350 powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and followed by a DLR chase plane.

Results of World’s 1st In-Flight Study of Commercial Aircraft Using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel is Out, and Promising


To give an idea of what contrails are, — the white streaks you see coming off high-flying jet airplanes are called contrails, which is short for condensation trail. Contrails are clouds that form when water vapor condenses and freezes around small particles (aerosols) in aircraft exhaust.

The impact of contrails was estimated to be reduced by at least 26 percent with 100% SAF use compared to contrails resulting from the Jet A-1 reference fuel used in ECLIF3.

Key findings from the study include:
  • A 56% reduction in the number of contrail ice crystals per mass of unblended SAF consumed.
  • An estimated 26% reduction in the climate impact of contrails, according to global model simulations by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
The results suggest that using 100% SAF could significantly reduce the short-term climate impact of aviation by reducing non-CO2 effects such as contrails, in addition to lowering CO2 emissions over the lifecycle of SAF. This is a clear indication of the effectiveness of SAF towards climate-compatible aviation and a step forward in mitigating the environmental impact of air travel.

These results show that using SAF in flight could significantly reduce the climate impact of aviation in the short term by reducing non-CO2 effects such as contrails, in addition to reducing CO2 emissions over the lifecycle of SAF.

Click here to read the full report.
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