Although electric and hybrid propulsion systems are also essential alternatives for zero-emission flights. For now, SAF is considered the most viable solution. But, according to current regulations, aircraft can use only up to 50% SAF, mixed with conventional fuel. So, one of the goals is to achieve certification of non-blended SAF to conduct sustainable long-distance travel.
This is what Rolls-Royce is supporting, and it recently announced that all of its Trent engines will be compatible with non-blended SAF by 2023. The company’s most recent test was a giant step in that direction, as its 747 Flying Testbed aircraft conducted a successful flight, operating on 100% SAF.
The 747 Flying Testbed flew over Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, with its Trent engine running entirely on non-blended SAF, while its other three RB211 engines ran on conventional fuel. According to Rolls-Royce, there were no technical issues, and the aircraft made a successful return to the Tucson airport, demonstrating the efficiency of SAF.
Boeing also gave a helping hand, ensuring that the aircraft would function properly. At the same time, the green jet fuel was provided by World Energy, the only company in the U.S. to produce SAF on a commercial scale.
Although Rolls-Royce estimates that it will be another 20 to 30 years before aviation can become totally carbon neutral, successful tests such as this one prove that aircraft are closer to switching to 100% SAF.
It's a SAFtastic day - we've flown our 747 Flying Test Bed with one engine using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Our thanks to @Boeing and @NewsWorldEnergy for their support. Find out more here: https://t.co/k2wFjzN8kR #FlyNetZero #SAF #testbedtuesday pic.twitter.com/VUU9LPff8q— Rolls-Royce (@RollsRoyce) October 19, 2021