Will Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuel Take Off in Aviation?

At PrivateFly, we always like to stay up to date on the latest innovations in the aviation sphere – whether in airlines or in private aviation.

Much of the most recent news has to do with sustainable energy within aviation. And with Gulfstream’s announcement of its first sale of Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuel (SAJF), it seems this topic is back at the forefront.

In Europe, the European Business Aviation Association reiterated its support for the development of sustainable alternative fuels at its General Assembly. Across the pond, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has also voiced its support for research into sustainable solutions in aviation.

These fuels could help significantly reduce the carbon footprint our industry produces. We take a deep dive into sustainable alternative jet fuels – and if it’s even possible to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% in business aviation.

With private jet charter questions, please call our 24/7 flight team at (866) 726-1222 or contact us online

What is “Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuel?”

Simply put, the term refers to a whole range of non-petroleum fuels.

As the name suggests, it presents an alternative to conventional fuel while still performing the same function – powering engines. It is produced sustainably and comes from alternative sources such as cooking oil, vegetable oil, waste, or other agricultural residues.

Are Sustainable Alternative Fuels Safe?

In aviation, safety is paramount. As such, these fuels are subject to a series of tests before being approved.

SAJF’s are certified through industry bodies after they’ve met specific criteria established by multiple civil aviation authorities and stakeholders such as manufacturers and engineers. They are also tested on the ground, in simulation, in the air, and in extreme flight conditions.

SAJFs have the same properties as conventional Jet-A and Jet A-1 fuels. They can also be mixed in multiple situations – like in transport, at the airport in storage, or in the tank of an aircraft – safely.

Currently, sustainable alternative fuels (SAJF) are blended with conventional fuels before being used. Source: Business Aviation Guide To Sustainable Fuel Jet Alternative (SAJF), ​​May 2018

Currently, sustainable alternative jet fuels (SAJF) are blended with conventional fuels before being used. Source: Business Aviation Guide To Sustainable Fuel Jet Alternative (SAJF), ​​May 2018

Currently, SAJF’s must be mixed with conventional fuels before use. This ensures maximum safety – and yet as the technology and research develops the mixture will eventually change to decrease the proportion of conventional fuel.

Can I Charter a Private Jet Powered by SAJF?

While these fuels are available, and can be used for the aircraft we arrange for clients, it is still rare. The lack of availability and high cost of the fuels prevent their commercialization on a large scale.

In addition, it is usually the airports that decide which fuels to offer; currently, there are four airports in the world that regularly offer them: in Los Angeles, Stockholm, Oslo, and Bergen.

However, recent initiatives have come forward from other airports to start offering SAJF’s on an ad-hoc basis as the demand grows. Airports in Brisbane and Geneva plan to offer them soon.

The Gulfstream G550 in flight.

The Gulfstream G550 in flight.

As previously mentioned, Gulfstream Aerospace recorded its first sale of SAJF in March 2019; the customer is an American G550 operator, who purchased 20,000 pounds of fuel. Gulfstream also sponsored one of the largest alternative sustainable fuel events in the business aviation industry recently.

Why Should Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuels be Used on a Larger Scale?

SAJF’s are the most realistic solution to reducing overall CO2 emissions from air travel – and best of all, they’ve been certifiable and relatively easy (though not cheap) to employ.

Research into electric, hybrid, or solar aircraft has made leaps and bounds, to be sure, but none have been commercially flown yet.

e-fan-plus-fly-demonstration-700x383

Presented in 2011, the E-Fan electric plane project was canceled in 2017. Image: Airbus Group

While we anxiously await the day we can fly on an electric plane, sustainable fuels are a good step forward towards environmental responsibility.

When Will it be Possible to Charter a Private Jet Powered by SAJF?

Recent initiatives from Gulfstream and the business aviation industry writ large give us hope that more operators and airports will be using SAJF’s in the near future.

PrivateFly will be closely monitoring the evolution of sustainable alternative jet fuels as well – with hopes to offer aircraft powered by them soon.

With private jet charter questions, please call our 24/7 flight team at (866) 726-1222 or contact us online