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Sustainable Aviation Fuel

First Etihad Airways flight from Japan powered by SAF

First Etihad Airways flight from Japan powered by SAF
Etihad Airways and World Energy collaborate to demonstrate the future of Net Zero aviation with zero emissions flight to COP27 (photo courtesy Etihad Airways).

Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has announced that it has conducted the first flight to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) supplied by ITOCHU Corporation and Neste Oyj from Tokyo's Narita International airport (NRT) in Japan.

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In February 2022, Finland-headed oil refiner and renewable products major Neste Oyj and ITOCHU Corporation (ITOCHU), one of Japan’s leading “sogo shosha” conglomerates, expanded their partnership to grow the availability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in Japan with ITOCHU acting as the branded distributor of “Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel” making it available first at the two largest Japanese international airports; Tokyo Haneda (HND) and Tokyo Narita (NRT).

The pioneering flight, EY871 departed NRT at 15.00 on October 27, 2022, for Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) and was the result of a partnership in which ITOCHU provided Neste’s SAF to Etihad, making Etihad Airways the first international airline to procure SAF in Japan.

The aviation industry needs partnerships like the one we have created with ITOCHU and NESTE to bring widespread SAF adoption to the industry. We are extremely proud to be the first international airline to procure and use Japanese-supplied SAF on flights departing Japan and to see this partnership take to the air, said Cassie Mackie, VP, Procurement & Supply Chain, Etihad Airways.

Etihad is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and reducing our 2019 emissions by 50 percent by 2035. The industry must get serious about decarbonization and this type of collaboration between governments, corporates, and the aviation sector, which increases SAF supply and availability at airports, helps pave the way for broader adoption, Cassie Mackie said.

The flight operated on a ~40 percent blend of SAF, representing the first delivery of some 50 000 (US) gallons (≈ 189 000 litres) of SAF, to be used over a number of flights in the coming weeks.

It is the first time a non-Japanese airline has used SAF supplied in Japan.

Deploy SATAVIA flight planning tech

According to Etihad, the flight reduced fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by approximately 75.2 tonnes CO2, based on the estimated fuel volume (20 000 US gallons or 75 700 litres) at a blend of 39.66 percent SAF.

The flight also managed non-CO2 environmental impacts through optimized flight planning for contrail prevention, deploying SATAVIA technology for a forecast net climate impact reduction of 71 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq).

Aircraft condensation trails, or contrails, cause surface warming responsible for up to 60 percent of aviation’s overall climate footprint.

Until recently, technical challenges made contrail prevention difficult or impossible, but UK-based SATAVIA’s atmospheric modeling now enables flight plan optimization for contrail prevention in addition to post-flight climate impact analysis.

Expanding SAF supply network

In December 2021, the Japanese government announced the goal of replacing 10 percent of aviation fuel consumption by Japanese airlines with SAF by 2030.

To achieve this goal, ITOCHU established a SAF supply network at Japanese domestic airports across the country for Japanese domestic carriers, which is now being expanded to international carriers, starting with Etihad Airways

ITOCHU has already established a domestic SAF supply chain at HND and NRT, spanning from SAF import and quality control to delivery to airports, as well as a refueling network for the aircraft themselves.

Neste is expanding its SAF business globally as the world’s leading producer of renewable fuel. Following the completion of the Singapore refinery expansion and the Rotterdam refinery modification in the Netherlands, Neste’s global annual production capacity will be over 1.5 million tonnes per year by the end of 2023 and 2.2 million tonnes per year by the end of 2026.

Under its Branded Distribution Marketing Agreement with Neste, ITOCHU will “work for the stable supply of SAF in Japan” and plans to expand its SAF supply base to Central Japan International Airport (NGO) and Kansai International Airport (KIX), allowing it to further increase the supply of SAF to both Japanese and international airlines.

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