Etihad announces first commercial flight powered by locally made bio-fuel

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The world’s first commercial flight operation using locally produced sustainable fuel on an Etihad Airways Boeing 787 from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam was announced at a press conference on Wednesday.

The flight powered by GE’s GEnx-1B engines marked a major milestone in the development of a clean, alternative aviation fuel to reduce carbon emissions.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer Etihad Aviation Group, said: “This is a significant milestone for the UAE and its key industries. Etihad is fully committed to this project which demonstrates a successful proof of concept that is local, viable, cost-effective and sustainable.

“Decarbonisation is important across the aviation industry and, together with our partners, Etihad is proud to be at the forefront of this pioneering new research.”

Etihad Airways has been at the forefront of aviation biofuel research in the region and this marks the first time that a flight has been operated on fuel derived from plants grown in saltwater.

Research consortium

The initiative is led by the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), a non-profit entity established by Masdar Institute that is part of Khalifa University of Science and Technology.

Khalifa University, Etihad Airways, Boeing, ADNOC, Safran, GE and BAUER Resources combined forces to create a major milestone in developing this comprehensive sustainable aviation fuel value chain.

Research has shown that jet fuel can be produced using desert land and sea water through an innovative agricultural process. The project supports the UAE’s diversification plans and commitment to sustainability.

Sustainable fuel for the flight was derived from oil in Salicornia plants, which were grown on the two-hectare Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS) farm in Masdar City.

It is the world’s first desert ecosystem designed to produce fuel and food in saltwater. Fish and shrimp raised at the facility provide nutrients for the plants as well as contribute to the UAE’s food production.

The flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam marked a major milestone in the development of a clean, alternative aviation fuel to reduce carbon emissions.

“Clean, alternative aviation fuels are an innovative and sustainable solution to significantly reducing harmful carbon emissions. The UAE is proud to be a pioneer in this domain,” said Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment.