By Federico Ricci Buffetti

New ICAO’s decarbonisation targets reinvigorate Business aviation own impetus to adopt SAF

As ICAO embraces a global framework for SAF deployment, Business aviation companies throughout the value chain unveil significant advancements in SAF adoption.

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During the Third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3), held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 20 to 24 November 2023, The International Civil Aviation Organization adopted a global framework for the deployment of SAF. The key element is the objective of a 5 per cent reduction in CO2 emitted by international aviation by 2030 through the use of SAF and lower carbon aviation fuels (LCAF). In this context, leading Business aviation companies across the value chain have recently announced exciting steps forward in the adoption of SAF.

IBAC’s role in representing Business aviation at the ICAO’s conference  

While not binding on the 193 States members of ICAO, and less ambitious than the regulation adopted by the European Union within the Fit-For-55 legislative package, this objective sets a global standard that sends a clear signal to fuel suppliers and the entire aviation industry. The vast consensus reached at the CAAF/3 could lead States across the globe to take policy actions in the direction of aviation decarbonisation. The agreement also acknowledges the significance of accounting methodologies in the global acceleration of SAF production, including Book & Claim, which plays a crucial role in enabling business aircraft operators to engage in the evolving SAF marketplace. This represents a highly positive development that IBAC and EBAA have long advocated for.

The International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), of which EBAA is a member, represented the global business aviation sector at the conference. In his introductory remarks, Kurt Edwards, the Director General of IBAC, emphasised the Business aviation industry’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. He underlined the sector’s embracing of SAF to reach this objective and the strong significance of the Book & Claim system in the short term, underscoring that Business aviation often flies to airports where SAF is not readily available and, as a consequence, accounting methodologies associated with this system have gained significant traction within the community.

He also mentioned that Book & Claim enables a transparent provision of SAF, ensuring the availability of environmental credits for SAF even in its absence, as this approach has been crucial for many companies to manage their carbon footprint effectively without compromising the operational agility essential to the Business aviation sector.

Business aviation companies showing concrete steps in adopting SAF

As regulatory frameworks continue to develop across the world, Business aviation operators, as well as aircraft and engine manufacturers, have answered the call for sustainability by showing concrete advancements in the adoption of SAF.

At the recent 2023 Dubai Airshow, Bombardier announced the commitment to cover all its operational flights with SAF using a Book & Claim system provided by Signature Aviation.  By using a 30 per cent SAF blend, the Canadian company expects a 20 to 25 per cent reduction in its annual greenhouse gas emissions at its flight operations since January 2023. Rolls-Royce also chose the 2023 Dubai Airshow to unveil the successful conclusion of compatibility testing for 100 per cent SAF across all its civil aero engine types, including business jets, currently in production. This development will have lasting consequences as it demonstrates that there are no engine technology barriers to the use of 100 per cent SAF. Moreover, it was confirmed that a 100 per cent SAF blend does not affect engine performance. Last, in chronological order but not for importance, Gulfstream achieved the milestone of completing the first trans-Atlantic flight fuelled by 100 per cent SAF on November 19th. The G600 aircraft, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW815GA engines, departed from Gulfstream’s headquarters in Savannah and landed at Farnborough Airport, UK.

Unlocking 100 per cent SAF for Business aviation

The tangible progress in proving the feasibility of flying with 100 per cent SAF is crucial to entice a growing number of companies to consider using SAF.  A flight consisting of 100 per cent SAF can effectively harness the complete emission-saving potential of this sustainable fuel, reaching up to 80 per cent compared to traditional jet fuel throughout its lifecycle. As the anticipated increase in supply leads to a decrease in SAF purchase costs in the upcoming years, this solution becomes economically feasible, enabling a substantial reduction in emissions for the Business aviation sector.

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