Airbus launched the first flight of an A319neo using 100% sustainable aviation fuel

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The European manufacturer has launched the first in-flight study of a single-aisle aircraft entirely powered by sustainable aviation fuel -SAF- without mixing it with conventional fossil fuels. The first results of the ground and flight tests should be available in 2022.

The use of SAF is growing at a rapid rate in several regions of the world, as companies and governments combine their economic, logistical and regulatory efforts to increase its production, as it is one of the main solutions for reduce emissions from industry in the short term. The Airbus advisory comes days before the start of the COP26 – United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12, and whose carbon footprint will be one of the central subjects.

Airbus was supported by Dassault Aviation; the French aerospace laboratory ONERA; the French multinational dedicated to high technologies applied to defense, aeronautical equipment and security, Safran; and the French Ministry of Transport. During the test flight over the Toulouse region on October 28, an A319neo CFM LEAP-1A engine was operating at 100% SAF.

The sustainable aviation fuel used, supplied by Total Energies, is produced in Normandy. It is made from esters and hydrotreated fatty acids (HEFA), which are mainly composed of used cooking oil as well as other residual fats. Around 57 tonnes of HEFA will be used during the test campaign, which will also be used for compatibility and operability studies of the Arrano engine from Safran Helicopters, used on the H160 Airbus Helicopters.

According to the press release released by Airbus, the study, known as VOLCAN – Flying with new alternative fuels – contributes to the global decarbonization efforts currently underway in the aviation industry and is funded by the France recovery plan. Relaunch, from the plan dedicated to the decarbonisation of aviation, implemented by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. “The ultimate goal of the study is to promote the deployment and large-scale use of the SAF and 100% SAF certification for use on single-aisle commercial aircraft and the new generation of business aircraft,” assures him. communicated.

During the campaign, Airbus and the German aerospace center DLR will be responsible for characterizing and analyzing the impact of SAFs on emissions on the ground and in flight. Safran, for its part, will be responsible for fuel system compatibility studies and the modernization of commercial aircraft and helicopter engines with different types of sustainable aviation fuels. In this regard, Safran will also perform ground tests of the LEAP engine with 100% SAF at its facilities later this year to complete the analysis.

The ONERA laboratory will also support the project companies by preparing, analyzing and interpreting the results of 100% SAF tests on emissions and the formation of condensation. Finally, Dassault Aviation will contribute to the compatibility studies of materials and equipment and will verify the susceptibility to biocontamination of the PBS 100% used in operations.

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