Airbus tested the performance of the SAF on board a test aircraft which took off from Toulouse at the end of March. The fuel was produced from used cooking oil.
The Airbus A380 is one of the largest aircraft currently in service in the skies. And although industrial production has now ended, the aircraft continues to contribute to innovation in the sector. For example, testing the quality of new SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel), fuels produced from sustainable resources such as used oils, agricultural residues or non-fossil CO2.
This is what is happening in France, where at the end of March Airbus used an A380 MSN 1 for a flight powered exclusively by sustainable aviation fuel.
The plane took off on March 28 from Blagnac airport (Toulouse). The experimental flight lasted approximately three hours and featured the performance of a Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine and 27 tons of unmixed SAF. It also allowed Airbus to test the behavior of biofuel for aircraft during takeoff and landing.
Although SAFs are considered “drop-in” fuels, until now their use has always been tied to blending with traditional jet fuel. Airbus aircraft themselves are currently certified to fly with up to 50% SAF blend with added paraffin. But the company’s goal is to achieve 100% certification by the end of this decade.
The SAF used in the tests was produced in France, more precisely in Normandy, by TotalEnergies. Composed of hydrogenated esters and fatty acids (HEFA), the sustainable fuel was completely free of aromatic molecules and sulfur, and was obtained by recycling used cooking oil and other fatty waste.
The A380 is the third Airbus aircraft type to fly 100% SAF in the past 12 months; the first was an Airbus A350 in March 2021, followed by a single-aisle A319neo in October 2021.