Sustainable Fuel in the Business Aviation

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AUGUST, 2021

A striking spate of weather extremes in recent years has triggered worldwide public concerns. Ongoing studies intending to find out if it has become more chaotic and what are the prognoses for impact on the planet’s life. The climate change is not any longer an obscure matter, it is a very near future reality for all.

Researchers evaluated the effects of a global expansion in aviation and found that the aviation emissions are an increasingly significant contributor to anthropogenic climate change.

The global aviation industry produces around 2.4% of all human-induced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Aviation is responsible for 12% of CO2 emissions from all transports sources, compared to 74% from road transport.

According to the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), the general aviation industry, including aircraft used for business, represents only 0.20 percent of the 36 giga-tons of global annual CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels (and making cement).

Non-CO2 effects, such as warming induced by aircraft contrails and other pollutants, bring the combined total contribution of commercial aviation to approximately 5% of the world’s climate-warming problem.

Aviation industry chiefs have attempted to address the climate and air quality impacts of aviation by improving fuel efficiency and applying strict emissions standards to reduce CO2 emissions and the introduction of SAF.

SAF stands for sustainable aviation fuel. It is produced from sustainable feedstocks and is very similar in its chemistry to traditional fossil jet fuel. Some typical feedstocks used are cooking oil and other non-palm waste oils from animals or plants; solid waste from homes and businesses, such as packaging, paper, textiles, and food scraps that would otherwise go to landfill or incineration. Using SAF results in a reduction in carbon emissions compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces over the lifecycle of the fuel.

In 2018, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA)’s Environmental Committee published the Business Aviation Guide to the Use of Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuel in collaboration with both the National Business Aviation Association and the European Business Aviation Association. According to GAMA, the business aviation community has long been committed to reducing the environmental impact of its products and operations.  Overall, fuel efficiency has improved by 40% over the past 40 years.

Because in-service aircraft are ready and able to fly with SAJF today, current products can make a positive impact as early as now. And yet a challenge of misconception still exists: trust in SAJF is low, while skepticism is high.

One of the arguments against SAF has been its cost premium over Jet A-1. At the headline level, this is often said to be three to five times the cost of conventional aviation fuel. But at a blend of 35% SAF, customers will only see a relatively small difference in price because of the relatively modest proportion used. And as more SAF becomes available, the price will come down. Industry experts share that the price point with SAF by 2025 will be negligible, as some engine manufacturers are already successfully conducting tests with 100% SAF.

Now, when the world aviation is on a modest track to recovery, environmental concerns have returned in a big way, with customer interest ranging from high net-worth individuals to Fortune 500 companies looking for a change in their consumption habits, to ensure they can satisfy their sustainability targets.

The importance of sustainable alternatives is clear. Demand is increasing, however, the product is not simply regular Jet A-1 fuel. A matter permanent supply of SAF for private aviation is being look at for some time, but availability was and is restricted, and customers are not always aware of difference between conventional fuel and SAF.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic helped change that. As Commercial airlines network size was declining, the quantity of SAF required for airlines operations has significantly reduced, leaving a door opened for the business aviation to step in.

ASM considers sustainable fuel operations one of the company’s priorities. Our Charter customers use SAF or mixed solutions more and more often.

Strategic views of the company support such international initiatives as SAF being available for aircraft flying to the global aviation shows as EBACE in Geneva and World Economic Forum. The ASM charter division’s list of customers who are using SAF is fast increasing for the trips to Europe. With increase of SAF availability in the Middle East, the company management expects demand for sustainable fuel, used in the exclusive ASM Learjet fleet, to pick up among the Middle East customers in the very near future.