ATR Aircraft, along with Braathens Regional Airlines and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) supplier Neste has collaborated together to enable the first-ever 100% Sustainable Air Fuel (SAF)-powered test flight on a commercial regional aircraft.
This test flight took place in Sweden and is part of the 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) certification process of ATR aircraft that started in September 2021 in cooperation with Braathens and Neste and should be completed by 2025.
It has been the latest in a series of successful ground and flight tests on the ATR 72-600 prototype aircraft performed at the beginning of 2022, including flights with 100% SAF in one engine, and today it was the first time it was done with 100% SAF in two engines.
Chief ATR pilot Cyril Cizabuiroz, Jean-Pierre Marre, co-pilot, and Pascal Daussin, Flight Test Mechanic, flew the Braathens’ aircraft from Malmo a coastal city in southern Sweden to Bromma near Stockholm, which took around 1 hour and 20 minutes. The results of today’s flight will be analysed and released at a later date.
Hitting this milestone was made possible by Swedavia enabling the SAF to be uplifted to the ATR aircraft at Malmo airport and Pratt & Whitney, closely working together with ATR and Braathens in the preparations of this milestone flight.
ATR CEO Stefano Bortoli, said:
“Today is a historic day for aviation. After more than a century of commercial flights powered by kerosene, we are at the dawn of a new era. In recent months, we carried out a series of successful flights with sustainable fuel in one engine. We now decided it was time to perform the first test flight with 100% SAF in both engines. This helps us to certify our aircraft to fly solely on sustainable fuels faster and to enable more sustainable connections as a result. The flight represents a true milestone for the entire aviation industry as it shows that this technology works and can be promptly adopted by many in our industry to speed up the transition to low emission aviation.”
Jonathan Wood, Neste’s Vice President Europe, Renewable Aviation. “
“SAF plays a key role in achieving aviation’s emission reduction goals,”
When used in neat form, at 100% concentration as on this test flight, Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions over its life cycle by up to 80%* compared to fossil jet fuel use, and provides additionally non-CO2 benefits through significantly reduced particulate emissions, among others. As a drop-in fuel, it can be used in existing aircraft engines and is compatible with current airport fuel infrastructure. Test flights like this show it is possible to safely fly on 100% SAF and help accelerate the adoption of SAF in aviation.”
Per G Braathen, Chairman of Braathens Regional Airlines stated
“As a leading Swedish domestic airline our sustainability focus started long before any other airline, and this milestone is one of the main pillars and represents a real innovation for the industry. It proved that 100% SAF is the most immediate and effective option we have to reduce CO2 emissions and move faster to a decarbonized industry.”
Maria Della Posta, president of Pratt & Whitney Canada.
“This milestone affirms the opportunity that SAF plays in the aviation industry and is indicative of the strong commitment Pratt & Whitney has made to powering more sustainable aviation,”
“We have worked closely with ATR and Braathens to ensure today’s successful flight test with 100% SAF”.
Moving together – with challenges ahead.
According to ATR, today’s flight is proof that speeding up the transition to net-zero carbon emissions can only be achieved when all stakeholders within aviation work closely together.
We’ve gone into some numbers on this publication into SAF and how much we’re going to need. At the Passenger Experience Conference, those numbers were pushed into sharp relief, where it was estimated that SAF could offer part of the net-zero strategy – with estimates between 9% and 31% according to data presented by Ascend by Cirium.
With those numbers, scale-up of SAF production will be something that airlines, manufacturers and governments will have to look into to help the industry hit its goals.
But for the industry – it’s a big step forward as we start to move away from mixing SAF into current kerosene or filling one engine out of two – as we learn the effect and benefits of this fuel source.
Images – ATR Aircraft. Presentation Slide – Ascend by Cirium, presented at the Passenger Experience Conference 2022.
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