Boeing, NASA and United Airlines test the benefits of SAF in flights

Boeing ecoDemonstrator Explorer, a United Airlines 737-10 aircraft, will fly with SAF while NASA's DC-8 Airborne Science Lab will measure non-CO2 emissions

(Source: United Airlines)

In a collaboration to strengthen sustainability in aviation, Boeing is partnering with NASA and United Airlines to conduct flight tests to measure how Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) affects contrails and distinct emissions. of carbon, in addition to reducing the climate impact of the fuel life cycle.

Boeing's second ecoDemonstrator Explorer, a United Airlines 737-10, will fly on 100% SAF and conventional jet fuel in separate tanks and alternative fuels during testing.

The plane will be monitored by NASA's DC-8 Airborne Science Lab, which will measure emissions produced by each type of fuel and ice particles from contrails. NASA satellites will capture images of the contrails forming as part of the tests.

Researchers aim to understand how advanced fuels, engine combustion chamber designs and other technologies can reduce global warming. For example, the tests will evaluate how SAF affects the characteristics of persistent contrails that occur when aircraft fly through cold, humid air. While their impact is not yet fully understood, some research has suggested that certain contrails can trap heat in the atmosphere.

World Energy is supplying the SAF for testing from its Paramount, California facility. Other test participations include:

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which provides funding through the ASCENT Center of Excellence.
GE Aerospace, which is providing technical expertise and project financing.
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt or DLR), which provides the experts and instrumentation.
The project is the latest phase of a long-term partnership between Boeing and NASA to explore how SAF can reduce emissions and enable other environmental benefits. Compared to conventional jet fuel, SAF, made from a variety of sustainably produced feedstocks, can reduce emissions by up to 85% over the fuel's life cycle and offers the greatest potential to reduce emissions. CO2 from aviation in the next 30 years. SAF also produces less soot, which can improve air quality near airports.

What test partners say:

"We are honored to collaborate with NASA, United Airlines and other valued partners on research that will strengthen the industry's understanding of the benefits of SAF beyond reducing carbon emissions," said Chris Raymond, Chief Sustainability Officer at Boeing. "We've solved difficult problems before, and if we continue to take meaningful action, I'm confident that together we will achieve a more sustainable aerospace future."

 "Flight tests are complex and resource-intensive, but they are the gold standard for understanding how sustainable aerospace innovations affect changes in contrails and climate," says Rich Wahls, NASA Mission Integration Manager. for the National Sustainable Flight Association. "That's why we're using NASA's DC-8 to participate in this collaboration, where valuable flight data will improve our predictive models."

"This collaboration between Boeing, NASA and United Airlines has the potential to not only help us better understand contrails, but also provide the full scope of what our transition to SAF can provide beyond tail gas reductions. greenhouse effect," said Lauren Riley, Chief Sustainability Officer at United Airlines.

"At GE Aerospace, we are proud to support this innovative research collaboration that will deepen our scientific understanding of the impact of SAF on emissions for a more sustainable future of flight," said GE Aerospace Vice President of Engineering Mohamed Ali.

“To achieve climate compatible aviation, we need close international cooperation. The German Aerospace Center has decades of experience in investigating the climate impact of the entire aviation system by advancing measurement technology and simulations,” says Markus Fischer, member of the DLR Board of Directors for Aeronautics. "The continuation of transatlantic cooperation now finds a new summit and underlines the international commitment to reducing the climate impact of the CO2 and non-CO2 effects of aviation."

The Boeing ecoDemonstrator program was expanded this year to include Explorer aircraft focused on specific near-term test projects. Boeing and NASA conducted ground testing of SAF emissions on an Alaska Airlines 737-9 in 2021 and on ecoDemonstrator 777-200ER and 787-10 flight test aircraft in 2022. Boeing has committed to delivering commercial aircraft compatible with 100% of SAF by 2030.

The 737-10 is the largest aircraft in Boeing's single-aisle 737 MAX family, reducing fuel use and emissions by 20% compared to the aircraft it replaces.

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