Marking a milestone in aviation’s lower carbon journey, regional aircraft manufacturer ATR, Swedish airline Braathens Regional Airlines and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) supplier Neste collaborated to enable the first ever 100% SAF-powered test flight on a commercial regional aircraft. The fuel was uplifted at Malmo Airport in Sweden before the aircraft flew to Bromma in southern Sweden near Stockholm.
The historic flight, which took place on Tuesday 21 June, 2022 and lasted around 1 hour and 20 minutes, is part of the 100% SAF certification process of ATR aircraft that began in September 2021 in cooperation with Braathens and Neste and which is expected to be complete by 2025. While various ground and flight tests have taken place on the ATR 72-600 prototype aircraft, Tuesday marked the first time a flight was conducted with 100% SAF in two engines.
Describing it as a “historic day for aviation,” ATR CEO Stefano Bortoli added: “After more than a century of commercial flights powered by kerosene, we are at the dawn of a new era. In recent months, we carried out a series of successful flights with SAF in one engine. We now decided it was time to perform the first test flight with 100% SAF in both engines. This helps us to certify our aircraft to fly solely on SAF faster and to enable more sustainable connections as a result. The flight represents a true milestone for the entire aviation industry as it shows that this technology works and can be promptly adopted by many in our industry to speed up the transition to low-emission aviation.”
Meanwhile, Johnathan Wood, Neste’s Vice President Europe Renewable Aviation noted that SAF is key to achieving aviation’s emission reduction goals. “When used in neat form, at 100% concentration as on this test flight, Neste MY SAF redues greenhouse gas emissions over its lifecycle by up to 80% compared to fossil jet fuel use, and provides additionally non-CO2 benefits through significantly reduced particulate emissions, among others. As a drop-in fuel, it can be used in existing aircraft engines and is compatible with current airport fuel infrastructure. Test flights like this show it is possible to safely fly on 100% SAF and help accelerate the adoption of SAF in aviation.”
Pratt & Whitney worked closely with ATR and Braathens to prepare for the milestone flight with Maria Della Costa, President of Pratt & Whitney Canada saying: “This milestone affirms the opportunity that SAF plays in the aviation industry and is indicative of the strong commitment Pratt & Whitney has made to powering more sustainable aviation.”
The flight also underline that speeding up the transition to net-zero carbon emissions can only be achieved when all stakeholders within aviation work closely together.