Cathay launches corporate SAF programme; Etihad running flight tests to cut carbon emissions

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Studying-Fuel

Cathay Pacific announced it is launching a pilot Corporate Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Programme. The programme provides corporate customers the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint from business travel or airfreight by contributing to the use of SAF uplifted for the first time from Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) on Cathay Pacific flights.

Cathay Pacific is kick-starting the programme with eight corporates as launch customers, including AIA, Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK), DHL Global Forwarding, HSBC, Kintetsu World Express (KWE), PwC China, Standard Chartered, and Swire Pacific.

Cathay Pacific Group CEO Augustus Tang. (PHOTO: Cathay Pacific)

Cathay Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang said: “We continue to pioneer our industry’s move towards more substantial use of SAF, especially in Asia. Last year, we were among the first carriers in the world to announce a target of 10 percent SAF for our total fuel use by 2030. We have made significant progress since then and are pleased that uplifting SAF from HKIA is now a reality with the strong support of the local authorities and fuel suppliers. In addition to our launch corporate customers, we have received a very enthusiastic response from other corporates and we welcome other interested companies to sign-up to reduce their indirect emissions from flight-related activities. Climate change is a global challenge and we need to work together to tackle it. We see the launch of this Corporate SAF Programme as an important step for us to engage other like-minded organisations, and a first step in sending an important demand signal to the SAF supply chain that there is firm interest in the region, not only from airlines, but also the aviation value-chain all the way to end users for both passenger and cargo transportation.”

SAF is considered the most important way to decarbonise airline operations in the next few decades, before alternatively powered aircraft can be widely deployed in commercial operations. Compared to conventional jet fuel, SAF can reduce up to 100 percent carbon emissions on a lifecycle basis, depending on the SAF technology used.

The SAF used for the launch of this programme is made from used cooking oil and animal fat waste. It is made available to us by our pilot Corporate SAF Programme fuel suppliers PetroChina and Shell. The very first uplift of SAF at HKIA is made possible through a collaborative effort with many stakeholders along the supply chain and various government departments. SAF used in this programme will go through the normal aviation-fuelling infrastructure, which provides important learning for developing ongoing regular SAF supply from HKIA in the future.

Cathay Pacific is undertaking a multi-pronged approach towards a green recovery and long-term transition towards its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Apart from its increased usage of SAF, Cathay Pacific’s carbon reduction roadmap includes fleet modernisation, operational efficiency improvements, leveraging on emerging technology breakthroughs to decarbonise aviation, and offering carbon offsets through its Fly Greener programme.

Etihad running flight tests to cut carbon emissions

(IMAGE: Etihad)

Etihad Airways announced it is undertaking a week of intensive research and testing on over 30 flights to test operational efficiencies, technology and procedures that will reduce carbon emissions, in an expansion of its ongoing sustainability flight testing regime. The week-long programme, coinciding with Earth Day on 22 April, includes over 20 commercial flights operating across Etihad’s network to test contrail avoidance technologies in partnership with SATAVIA, a UK-based green aerospace company. The airline will also operate up to 13 dedicated ‘EcoFlights’ testing a range of flight and engine optimisation initiatives, with successful trials to be incorporated into regular scheduled operations. Each of these flight tests will be operated on Etihad’s fleet of fuel-efficient A350 and 787 aircraft, spearheaded by the ‘Etihad Greenliner’, and Etihad’s newest aircraft, the ‘Sustainable 50’.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Etihad has demonstrated its commitment to sustainability over the last three years, leading the industry through real world testing and application of technology and processes that provide incremental environmental benefit every time we fly. The tests we’re conducting this week are just the latest initiatives in our long running and comprehensive sustainability programme, because for us, sustainability is a priority every day, not just once a year when it’s convenient and expected. The results we develop will add to the body of work and knowledge base we’ve built to support the aviation industry on its journey to decarbonisation.”

The bulk of tests conducted over the week are part of a year-long partnership with SATAVIA to enable contrail prevention, integrating atmospheric modelling with operational flight planning to prevent contrail formation. Aircraft contrails, or condensation trails, are clouds made up of aircraft-generated ice crystals, which cause a net surface heating effect globally by trapping atmospheric heat. Contrails cause up to 60 percent of aviation’s total climate impact, the equivalent to 2 percent of all human impact.

In contrast to many green aerospace initiatives, contrail prevention is a software solution that can be implemented in the near-term through technical integration with flight operations. In addition to contrail avoidance R&D flight tests, Etihad will operate up to 13 dedicated EcoFlights, following six previous sustainability focused operations since 2019, including the EY20 Sustainable Flight from London to Abu Dhabi in October last year, which reduced carbon emissions by 72 percent compared to a similar flight in 2019. These flights will further test and trial operational initiatives to evaluate and confirm learnings from past ecoFlights for flight path optimisation, including optimised climb and continuous descent, optimal departure runway, last minute engine start-up, single engine taxi procedures network wide and fight deck technology solutions.

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