Rather than being derived from petroleum, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is produced using renewable feedstocks such as cooking oil, animal fats, non-edible plants and agricultural waste. It is claimed to reduce lifecycle fuel emissions by up to 80 per cent compared to traditional jet fuel, but under current regulations, planes are not permitted to fly with anything higher than a 50/50 blend of SAF and conventional fuel.
With the aviation industry having committed to dramatically reducing its carbon emission by 2050, the proportion of SAF that aircraft use in their fuel mix will have to rise. Boeing says that – by 2030 – all its commercial aircraft will be certified and compatible to fly with 100 per cent SAF.
"Our industry and customers are committed to addressing climate change, and sustainable aviation fuels are the safest and most measurable solution to reduce aviation carbon emissions in the coming decades," said Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
"We're committed to working with regulators, engine companies and other key stakeholders to ensure our airplanes and eventually our industry can fly entirely on sustainable jet fuels."
According to Boeing, it has been working with airlines, engine manufacturers and others to conduct biofuel test flights since 2008, gaining initial approval for sustainable fuels in 2011. In 2018, Boeing partnered with FedEx on the ecoDemonstrator flight-test programme which used a 777 Freighter to make the world's first commercial flight using 100 per cent SAF.
"With a long history of innovation in sustainable aviation fuels, certifying our family of airplanes to fly on 100 per cent sustainable fuels significantly advances Boeing's deep commitment to innovate and operate to make the world better," said chief sustainability officer Chris Raymond.
"Sustainable aviation fuels are proven, used every day, and have the most immediate and greatest potential to reduce carbon emissions in the near and long term when we work together as an industry."