Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Ideas

IDEAS: Gulfstream Completes Transatlantic Flight Using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel

3 months ago

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. has announced that one of its Gulfstream G600 aircraft has successfully completed the world’s first trans-Atlantic flight powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). 

Credit: Gulfstream

The aircraft, which departed the company’s headquarters in Savannah, Georgia on November 19, landed almost seven hours later at Farnborough Airport in England.  

The SAF used on the flight was comprised of 100% Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (neat HEFA), and was produced by World Energy and delivered by World Fuel Services.

According to a release, it is hoped the data collected from this flight will ‘help Gulfstream and its key suppliers gauge aircraft compatibility with future low-aromatic renewable fuels, particularly under cold temperatures for extended flight durations.’

“Gulfstream is innovating for a sustainable future,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream.

“One of the keys to reaching business aviation’s long-term decarbonization goals is the broad use of SAF in place of fossil-based jet fuel. The completion of this world-class flight helps to advance business aviation’s overarching sustainability mission and create positive environmental impacts for future generations.”


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Airlines

IDEAS: First Emirates Flights Powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel Depart Dubai

4 months ago

Emirates has announced that its first flights operating with sustainable aviation fuel in the Emirates have taken place, with Emirates’ flight EK 412 bound for Sydney departing Dubai International Airport on 24 October. 

315,000 gallons of blended sustainable aviation fuel has been provided to the airline’s hub in Dubai by Shell, and according to a release, has enabled the airline to ‘power a number of missions’ over the course of the last few weeks.

The supplied blend has chemical characteristics that are identical to conventional jet fuel, which means that integrating the fuel into the existing infrastructure and aircraft engines can be seamlessly actioned with no modifications required.

Credit: Emirates

“We’re pushing ahead with proactive measures to enable more sustainable flying now and in the future, and powering flights from our Dubai hub is just one of the steps we’ve taken to reduce emissions and concretely help our customers minimize their own carbon footprint. We still have a long road ahead, and we hope that our partnership with Shell Aviation inspires more producers to address the supply gaps and make SAF readily available in major hubs like Dubai, as well as other points on our network,” said Sir Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Airlines

Europe Adopts Sustainable Aviation Fuel Mandates From 2025

6 months ago

The European Parliament on Wednesday approved the bloc’s sustainable aviation fuel mandates in the push to cut aviation emissions dramatically.

The mandates, which are part of the European Union’s Fit for 55 program to cut carbon emissions, require that 2% of all aviation fuel used in the bloc must be low-emission sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, from 2025. SAF is typically defined as having at least half the lifecycle carbon emissions as standard fossil jet fuels. The sustainable fuel mandate steps up to 6% in 2030, 34% in 2040, and 70% by 2050.

Synthetic fuels, for example those derived from so-called green hydrogen, must make up 1.2% of SAF usage from 2030 and 35% by 2050.

“This is a tremendous step towards the decarbonization of aviation,” European Parliament representative José Ramón Bauzá Díaz said. “It is now time for EU governments to implement the new rules and support the industry to ensure the cost-effective deployment of sustainable aviation fuels across Europe.”

Finnair plane with sustainable aviation fuel
(Finnair)

The mandates come amid growing calls from European airlines for financial support to achieve the SAF targets. Production of the low-emission fuels currently represent a fraction of a percent of global aviation fuel demand. Ramping up production can take years as would-be producers source feedstocks and secure the necessary approvals to open processing facilities.

“The EU should do what the United States is doing already [and] incentivize SAF,” KLM CEO Marjan Rintel told Airline Weekly in June.

The U.S., rather than mandate SAF usage, provided producers and distributors tax incentives for the fuels in 2022’s Inflation Reduction Law.

Many, however, believe that a combination of SAF incentives and mandates — the proverbial carrots and sticks — are necessary to both boost production of the fuels and bring costs down to near parity with fossil fuels. SAF typically costs several times more per gallon than conventional jet fuel.

The EU’s new mandates have been in the works for several years. The European Parliament first passed them last year but had to vote on a revised plan after tripartite negotiations with the European Commission and Council of the EU, similar to the reconciliation process between the U.S. House and Senate after they pass two different versions of the same bill.

Airlines

IDEAS: Boom Supersonic Completes Key Milestone in Journey Towards First Flight

6 months ago

Boom Supersonic, the company building the world’s fastest airliner, Overture, has completed several key milestones with its technology demonstrator aircraft, the XB-1.

Credit: Boom Supersonic

The XB-1 aircraft is playing a vital role in enabling the development of the Overture aircraft, which is a sustainable supersonic airliner that has been designed to fly at Mach 1.7 and run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel. 

Boom Supersonic announced last week that the demonstrator aircraft had completed its first round of taxi testing, in addition to extensive ground testing since moving to the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California earlier this year.

You can take a look at a video released showcasing the ground test below:

“The recent progress made towards XB-1’s first flight reflects the team’s collective efforts to build and safely fly the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet,” said Blake Scholl, founder and CEO at Boom Supersonic. 

The supersonic demonstrator ‘leverages 60 years of progress in airplane technologies like carbon fiber composites, advanced avionics, and digitally-optimized aerodynamics to enable sustainable supersonic travel,’ according to a release from the company.

In addition to the ongoing testing, XB-1 recently received an experimental airworthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and letters of authorization have been awarded to allow Chief Test Pilot Bill “Doc” Shoemaker and test pilot Tristan “Gepetto” Brandenburg to fly XB-1 over the Mojave desert.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Airlines

IDEAS: Virgin Atlantic Completes Ground Test Using Sustainable Aviation Fuel

7 months ago

Virgin Atlantic and Rolls-Royce have announced the success of a ground test using a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) blend on a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine. 

Credit: Virgin Atlantic

The ground test marks a key milestone in the run up to the British carrier operating a Boeing 787 Dreamliner across the Atlantic using only SAF in November of this year.

Although according to the carrier, the realization of flight taking to the skies will be a challenging task ‘requiring cross industry collaboration and dedicated project teams working on the research, testing and operations to make it happen.’

While current SAF fuel standards allow for only a 50% SAF blend in commercial jet engines, Virgin Atlantic aims to demonstrate the potential of SAF as a 100% replacement for jet fuel.

The project is jointly funded by the Department for Transport, and is made up of a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic, that includes Rolls Royce, Boeing, University of Sheffield, Imperial College London and Rocky Mountain Institute. 

“The 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel transatlantic flight will be a historic moment in aviation’s roadmap to decarbonisation. Alongside fleet transformation, SAF is the most readily available way for our industry to decarbonise, but currently there’s not enough supply and without it and the radical collaboration required to produce it, we can’t meet our 2030 targets. We need UK government support to create a UK SAF industry to allow for every single flight out of the UK to operate with 100% SAF – if we make it, we can fly it,” said Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic.


At Skift, we are looking to unearth the most creative and forward-thinking innovations in travel through our Skift Ideas Franchise, which includes the Skift IDEA Awards, Skift Editorial Hub and the Skift Ideas Podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.