Working together with Rolls-Royce, Boeing and World Energy, it successfully carried out the test flight of the 100 Flying Testbed aircraft, which has a Trent 1000 engine powered by 747 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
The aircraft, which successfully completed the tests, was able to meet with the sky while taking off from Tucson airport in Arizona, using only 1000 percent SAF fuel in its Trent 100 engine and standard jet fuel in the remaining three RB211 engines. In addition, the plane successfully returned to the airport from which it took off after 3 hours 54 minutes, passing New Mexico and Texas. Post-flight data confirmed that there were no engineering problems during the flight, while also revealing further findings confirming the fuel's suitability for commercial use.
With this test validation, Rolls-Royce continues to lead the adoption of 100 percent SAF, consolidating both ground and air testing of the Trent XWB and Pearl engines. On the other hand, the company confirms that all Trent engines will be 2023 percent SAF compliant by 100. Rolls-Royce is also calling on the aviation industry and governments to cooperate to go beyond the targets set by the UN Race to Zero to achieve net zero in long-haul aviation.
Aircraft currently operating today have the necessary approvals to operate with SAF fuel mixed up to 50 percent with conventional jet fuels. Rolls-Royce continues to support work on unblended SAF approval to push this ratio even higher. These studies, on the other hand, are at an important point to support sustainability, especially in long-distance air travels, which will require the power density of gas turbines in the coming years.
Rolls-Royce, which aims to popularize the use of SAF throughout the industry, cooperates closely with Boeing, which ensures that the aircraft systems operate as planned with 100 percent SAF, as well as providing technical support and oversight on the modifications of the aircraft under test. The company is also joining forces with World Energy, the world's first and the US's only commercial-scale SAF manufacturing company, to provide low-carbon fuel for flight.
Part of a broader aviation climate action plan…
The initial need to significantly increase SAF production was recognized recently by the US administration with the launch of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Incentive Program to produce three billion gallons of fuel per year by 2030. This is part of a broader aviation climate action plan that is expected to be announced in the coming months. The European Commission, on the other hand, aims to require the inclusion of SAF fuel in the fuels supplied at EU airports, while creating a ReFuelEU Aviation proposal in this direction. The rate determined by this proposal is expected to reach 2050 percent by 63.
Making a statement on the subject, Rolls-Royce Civil Aviation Product Development and Technology Director Simon Burr said: “At Rolls-Royce, we need to take action to decarbonize our industry. With this flight, we aim to ensure that 100% SAF is used in our industry without any problems. In addition, we continue to engage in various collaborations to ensure that all aircraft technology solutions are ready for this type of change.”
Commenting on the collaboration, Sheila Remes, Boeing Environmental Sustainability Vice President, said: “We are very proud to be partnered with Rolls-Royce and World Energy in this flight, which is operated with 100 percent pure fuel. This success demonstrates that SAF can replace traditional jet fuel in the long term and is a viable renewable energy solution for aviation decarbonisation in the next 20-30 years.”
World Energy's CEO, Gene Gebolys, emphasized the importance of the cooperation for aviation, and commented on the subject: “As the first SAF manufacturer in the world and the only SAF manufacturer in the USA, we appreciate the pioneering work carried out by our partners. Rolls-Royce's effort to demonstrate the feasibility of powering its own jet engines with 100 percent renewable SAF we produce lays a solid foundation for the transition to fossil fuel-free flights. This work is of critical importance. We thank Rolls-Royce for working with us during this period.” he shared.
The Rolls-Royce Flying Testbed is used to run various engine-related tests that increase efficiency and durability while also supporting Rolls-Royce's decarbonisation strategy.