Flight tests show that biofuels performs as well as or better than petroleum-based jet fuel, and when produced in sustainable ways, biofuel contributes far less to global climate change than traditional fuels because carbon dioxide (CO2) is pulled out of the atmosphere by a growing plant-based feedstock. According to Boeing and SAA, new developments in technology will enable the conversion of biomass into jet fuel in a more sustainable manner without competing with other sectors for food and water resources.
Aviation biofuel refined to required standards has been approved for a blend of up to 50 percent with traditional jet fuel. Globally, more than 1,500 passenger flights using biofuel have been flown since the fuel was approved.
The companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain development at The Corporate Council on Africa's 9th Biennial US-Africa Business Summit. This collaboration between Boeing and SAA is part of their broader efforts to support environmental sustainability for the airline's operations and the commercial aviation industry overall, in addition to advancing South Africa's social and economic development.
"SAA is taking the lead in Africa on sustainable aviation fuels and, by setting a best practice example, can positively shape aviation biofuel efforts in the region," said Ian Cruickshank, SAA head of group environmental affairs. "By working with Boeing's sustainable aviation biofuel team, which has a history of successful partnerships to move lower-carbon biofuels closer to commercialisation, we will apply the best global technology to meet the unique conditions of Southern Africa, diversify our energy sources and create new opportunities for the people of South Africa."
Boeing has already worked with airlines, research institutions, governments and other stakeholders to develop road maps for biofuel supply chains in several countries and regions, including the United States, China, Australia and Brazil. The aerospace company's plan to work with SAA is the first such project in Africa.
"Sustainable aviation biofuel will play a central role in reducing commercial aviation's carbon emissions over the long term, and we see tremendous potential for these fuels in Africa," said Julie Felgar, Boeing Commercial Airplanes managing director of environmental strategy and integration. "Boeing and SAA are committed to investigating feedstocks and pathways that comply with strict sustainability guidelines and can have a positive impact on South Africa's development."