Lowering emission levels is only a part of the operator's sustainability commitment, which also involves things like responsible consumption and the protection of wildlife and natural habitats. When it comes to the zero-emission goal, SAF plays a major role. Most industry players and government officials around the world agree that SAF is the fastest and most effective solution at the moment.
While new types of aircraft and propulsion systems based on batteries and hydrogen fuel cells take a long time to develop and certify, this green jet fuel can be used without modification to existing aircraft or engines and with immediate positive effects.
Emirates started researching SAF back in 2017. After an inaugural flight from Chicago using blended SAF, several similar flights were carried out, confirming the potential of this alternative fuel. This year, it was time to take things to the next level. In January, Emirates successfully completed the region's first demonstration flight using 100% unblended SAF. In October, the first flights running on SAF provided by Shell Aviation marked a new milestone. One of them was flight EK 412, headed to Sydney.
Emirates is now officially operating SAF-powered flights from Dubai. This particular fuel is a mix of 40% SAF and 60% conventional Jet A-1 fuel. The current regulations only allow the use of blended SAF for commercial flights, and various operators are advocating for the use of pure, unblended SAF, correlated with increased availability.
In its unblended form, this alternative fuel has been proven to reduce up to 80% of greenhouse gas emissions throughout its life cycle. The benefit of blended SAF in this particular ratio is that it mimics the chemical properties of standard aircraft fuel.
Shell supplied the blended fuel to the Dubai International Airport (DBX) through DBX's airport fueling system. It was officially the first-ever SAF supply in Dubai for Emirates.
Emirates and Shell announced their pioneering partnership last year. Shell agreed to deliver 315,000 gallons of blended SAF to DBX, paving the way for an alternative fuel supply in Dubai. Customers will also be able to opt for green SAF-powered flights through Shell Aviation's blockchain solution, Avelia.
The two partners hope that these flights will become the first step toward regular low-emission flights in the near future.