#Sustainability20: First Electric Air Taxi Flight in Saudia Arabia & Other Stories In Aviation
Weekly Roundup - 23/06/23
Each Friday, we publish a round-up of the most important stories on sustainable aviation. You can see previous editions of #Sustainability20 here.
The report showcases Boeing's increased usage of renewable energy, investments in technologies reducing fuel consumption, emissions and noise, and the purchase of sustainable aviation fuel. Additionally, it presents the Boeing Cascade Climate Impact Model, a Transonic Truss-Braced Wing Sustainable Flight Demonstrator, and the ecoDemonstrator program, among other achievements.
In his previous role as the CEO of Etihad, Douglas gained a reputation for being forward-thinking on airline sustainability. As the recently appointed CEO of Riyadh Air, he’s now bringing that ethos to the new Saudi airline.
At the Paris Air Show, Air Cahana placed an order for 250 hydrogen-electric engines with ZeroAvia. The carrier is the first airline to be launched purely with a mission of decarbonizing aviation.
Infrastructure and operational efficiencies
KLM has submitted a three-part noise abatement plan to the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, opposing the government's proposals to reduce flights. KLM's plan includes investing €6-€7 billion in cleaner and quieter aircraft, researching smarter processes for quieter operations, and adjusting flight schedules to deploy quieter aircraft at night while suggesting higher airport fees for noisier planes.
Airbus has introduced a new product evolution standard for the A350 program aimed at improving performance and efficiency. The standard includes structural weight savings of around 1.2 metric tonnes, enhanced takeoff performance through software evolutions, and an increased Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) capability. The enhancements are designed to fulfil the varying needs of aircraft operators, contributing to increased performance, efficiency, and revenue-generating opportunities.
Korean Air is upcycling parts from retired aircraft into products such as luggage tags and golf ball markers made from fuselage skin, and cosmetics pouches created from lifejackets. The initiative gives travellers an opportunity to own a piece of aviation history while promoting sustainability.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has certified SAF under CORSIA for the first time. Neste, World Energy, and Ecochem produced nine SAF batches, reducing CO2 emissions by 1,700 tons. The SAF, made from waste materials, reduced CO2 emissions by 75-84% compared to conventional fuels.
Boeing launched a SAF Dashboard at the 2023 Paris Air Show, which tracks global SAF capacity and projections for the next decade. It is accessible on Boeing's Sustainable Aerospace Together hub.
The European Union will mandate the use of SAF for flights within and departing the bloc, starting in 2025. The ReFuelEU Aviation proposal requires a gradual increase in SAF usage, reaching 70% by 2050. The legislation aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and foster SAF production in Europe.
Air New Zealand is ready to commit to advancements in SAF development by making a joint investment with the New Zealand government. The airline and the government had earlier invited innovators to produce green fuel in the country and the next phase will involve evaluating all the possibilities of creating SAF in New Zealand.
Vueling's partnership with Avikor enabled 100,000 customers to fund SAF through contributions during booking. Vueling matches contributions, doubling the SAF supplied. This led to 145 tonnes of SAF supplied, reducing CO2 emissions by 350 tonnes. Vueling aims to use 10% SAF by 2030.
JAL signed an agreement with Shell Aviation for SAF supply in Los Angeles from 2025, supporting JAL's goal to replace 1% of its jet fuel with SAF by 2025, and 10% by 2030. This agreement will reduce lifecycle emissions by over 47,000 tons of CO2 annually, as JAL aims for carbon neutrality by 2050.
TotalEnergies aims to produce 1.5 million tonnes of SAF annually by 2030, accounting for 10% of the global SAF market. The fuel, primarily derived from used cooking oil, will be manufactured in Europe, the United States, Japan, and South Korea. This aligns with TotalEnergies’ ambition to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
New technology: Electric and Hydrogen
NEOM, a $500 billion city-state project in Saudi Arabia, is partnering with German eVTOL manufacturer Volocopter to introduce electric air taxis and drones. NEOM aims for sustainable renewable energy-powered mobility, including autonomous shuttles and electric boats. Recently, Volocopter successfully conducted a week-long test flight campaign in NEOM’s challenging climate and aims for regular operations soon.
All-electric aircraft manufacturer Eviation has signed a letter of intent for up to 50 commuter planes with Miami-based Aerolease, an aircraft leasing company focused on sustainability. The deal was announced at the 2023 Paris Air Show.
Embraer and Nidec Corporation have formed a joint venture named Nidec Aerospace to develop electric propulsion systems for the eVTOL market. Embraer’s Eve Air Mobility eVTOL will be the launch customer for the electric motors developed by the JV.
Rolls-Royce is set to test a small gas turbine developed for hybrid-electric flights in the Advanced Air Mobility market. The turbogenerator system offers scalable power between 500kW and 1,200kW and can run on SAF and potentially hydrogen, extending flight ranges compared to battery-powered aircraft.
Boom Supersonic announced at the Paris Air Show that it has partnered with aerospace companies Aernnova, Leonardo, and Aciturri for the supply of wings, fuselage, and empennage respectively for its Overture supersonic airliner. The aircraft will feature a fuel system compatible with 100% sustainable aviation fuel, gull-shaped wings for enhanced performance, and a contoured fuselage for optimized fuel efficiency during supersonic flight.
VoltAero unveiled its first electric-hybrid aircraft, Cassio 330, at the Paris Air Show. The four-seat prototype will take its maiden flight in late 2023 with a Kawasaki thermal engine. A second prototype with VoltAero's hybrid propulsion unit and advanced avionics is set for 2024. VoltAero also plans to produce six-seat Cassio 480 and 10/12-seat Cassio 600 variants.
The Elfly Group has revealed NoEmi, a 9-seat all-electric seaplane with a range of 170km, top speed of 250km/h, and a non-pressurized cabin. It features two electric motors, is wheelchair accessible, and has versatile cabin layouts. A full-size prototype is expected to fly in 2025, with entry into service planned for 2030 along Norway’s west coast.
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