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Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 28-Jul-2022

Analysis

This regular CAPA report provides a summary of recent aviation sustainability and environment news. This latest issue features:

Rex and Dovetail Electric Aviation announce partnership to pioneer turbine powered aircraft

American Airlines purchases 500m gallons of SAF from Gevo

Turkish Airlines to launch new platform to balance carbon footprint

Airports Authority of India: 14 AAI airports are 100% powered by renewable energy

Air BP calls for SAF blending mandates to incorporate supply and delivery factors

This CAPA report features a summary of recent aviation sustainability and environment news, selected from the 300+ news alerts published daily by CAPA. For more information, please contact us.

Rex and Dovetail Electric Aviation announce partnership to pioneer turbine powered aircraft

Regional Express (Rex) entered (21-Jul-2022) a strategic partnership with Dovetail Electric Aviation (Dovetail) for turbine powered aircraft, nil emission propulsion.

The partnership, which will operate under the Dovetail brand, will develop and certify the retrofitting of electric engines onto legacy aircraft, initially for regional and general aviation aircraft.

Dovetail was formed in 2021 by Sydney Aviation Holdings, owners of Sydney Seaplanes and Dante Aeronautical, a start up pioneering disruptive electric aviation concepts with a presence both in Spain and Australia.

Rex will provide an aircraft to be used as a test bed for the project along with a raft of support facilities including engineering expertise, technical assistance, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) support as well as storage facilities and workforce accommodation.

Once the necessary IP and certification approvals are established, Dovetail will open conversion centres in Australia, Europe and Singapore, with the US and Middle East also under consideration.

Aircraft will be converted using MagniX engines for which Dovetail is the exclusive distributor in AustraliaNew Zealand, the South Pacific and Mediterranean Europe.

Converted aircraft will be 30%-40% quieter than their donor planes and will enjoy reduced operating costs of around 40%.

Dovetail will certify the entire propulsion system of an aircraft by integrating the electric motor, battery packs and hydrogen fuel cells into one 'drive-train' on an existing airframe.

Sydney Aviation Holdings CEO Aaron Shaw stated: "Our vision is to lead regional aviation across the world into an exciting, new sustainable era before leveraging the IP, approvals and facilities we establish into larger aircraft and longer flights as improvements in electric propulsion technology enable".

Rex deputy chairman John Sharp stated: "Australia, with its very high utilisation of regional aviation and large number of aircraft capable of conversion, is a perfect incubator for the electric aviation industry".

Mr Sharp added: "Regional airlines operating short sectors as well as seaplanes and training aircraft will be the early adopters of electric battery propulsion". [more - original PR]

Original report: REX AND DOVETAIL ELECTRIC AVIATION FORGE PARTNERSHIP TO PIONEER CONVERSION OF TURBINE POWERED AIRCRAFT TO ELECTRIC PROPULSION

Rex and Australian-headquartered Dovetail Electric Aviation (Dovetail) today announced the formation of a strategic partnership to pioneer the conversion of turbine powered aircraft to electric, nil emission propulsion.

The partnership, which will operate under the Dovetail brand, will develop and certify the retrofitting of electric engines onto legacy aircraft, initially for regional and general aviation aircraft.

Dovetail was formed in 2021 by Sydney Aviation Holdings, owners of Sydney Seaplanes and Dante Aeronautical, a start-up pioneering disruptive electric aviation concepts with a presence both in Spain and Australia

Sydney Aviation Holdings CEO, Aaron Shaw, said: “We are incredibly excited to collaborate with Rex Airlines and Dante Aeronautical on an initiative that promises to put Australia firmly on the map as a global leader in the conversion, certification, and maintenance of electric aircraft. For the first commercial electric flight to occur on such an historically important aviation site as Rose Bay just adds to our enthusiasm for this ground breaking project.”

Rex will provide an aircraft to be used as a test bed for the project along with a raft of support facilities including engineering expertise, technical assistance, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) support as well as storage facilities and workforce accommodation.

John Sharp, Deputy Chairman of Rex Airlines, said: “Rex is both proud and excited to be at the forefront of developments in sustainable regional aviation and helping our national efforts in achieving the target of net zero emissions by 2050.”

“Regional airlines operating short sectors as well as seaplanes and training aircraft will be the early adopters of electric battery propulsion. Australia, with its very high utilisation of regional aviation and large number of aircraft capable of conversion, is a perfect incubator for the electric aviation industry. Significantly lower operating costs of electric aircraft will also help to stimulate regional aviation services between communities not currently served by scheduled flights. 

“We are delighted to partner with Sydney Seaplanes and Dante Aeronautical in Dovetail Electric Aviation and to lend our aviation and engineering expertise to advance its progress, while also accelerating Rex’s journey to a zero emissions future.

“Dovetail promises to deliver the holy grail in aviation: true sustainability; lower maintenance and operating costs and also less waste as a function of the reuse of existing aircraft,” said Mr. Sharp

Once the necessary IP and certification approvals are established, Dovetail will open conversion centres in Australia, Europe and Singapore, with the United States and Middle East also under consideration.

Mr Shaw added: “Our vision is to lead regional aviation across the world into an exciting, new sustainable era before leveraging the IP, approvals and facilities we establish into larger aircraft and longer flights as improvements in electric propulsion technology enable.” 

“The addressable market is huge. We estimate that in the global small commuter fleet alone there are more than 11,000 nine to nineteen seat aircraft that are currently capable of being retro-fitted which represents a US$15bn market,” said David Doral, founder of Dante Aeronautical.

The conversion of turbine aircraft to electric propulsion promises to bring zero emissions aviation into the mainstream much faster and more cost effectively than via newly commissioned electrical planes. Dovetail expects to achieve certification for converted aircraft within four years, compared with more than eight to ten years for clean sheet electric aircraft, and at a fraction of the certification costs. 

Aircraft will be converted using MagniX engines for which Dovetail is the exclusive distributor in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Mediterranean Europe. Converted aircraft will be 30-40% quieter than their donor planes and will enjoy reduced operating costs of around 40%.

Dovetail will certify the entire propulsion system of an aircraft by integrating the electric motor, battery packs and hydrogen fuel cells into one ‘drive-train’ on an existing airframe. In doing so, it will generate unique IP in conversion engineering, testing technology and power plant machine learning to optimise powerplant performance. 

The company has established customer relationships or memoranda of understanding with a range of airlines including Australia’s Sydney Seaplanes, Alt Air, SeaAir Pacific and FLYM Group, Europe’s Volotea, Air Nostrum, Isla Air, Monte and Hong Kong Seaplanes.

American Airlines purchases 500m gallons of SAF from Gevo

American Airlines finalised (22-Jul-2022) a purchase agreement with Gevo for 500 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), to be delivered over five years.

SAF deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2026.

The agreement brings American Airlines' total low-carbon fuel commitments to over 620 million gallons, fulfilling approximately 20% of the carrier's goal to replace 10% of jet fuel consumption with SAF by 2030. 

American Airlines VP of sustainability stated: "The use of SAF is a cornerstone of our strategy to decarbonize air travel....driving progress at the scale and pace we need requires critical policy action in Washington and at the State level".  [more - original PR] [more - original PR - II]

Original report: American Furthers its Commitment to Sustainable Aviation Fuel

New agreement to purchase 500 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel over five years from Gevo, Inc. brings the airline closer to meeting its ambitious sustainability goals

American Airlines announced today it has finalized an agreement with biofuel company Gevo, Inc. for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Over five years, American has committed to purchasing 500 million gallons of SAF, the most significant SAF offtake commitment to date for the carrier.

“Today’s announcement is a historic step forward for American and our industry as we work to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Jill Blickstein, American’s Vice President of Sustainability. “The use of SAF is a cornerstone of our strategy to decarbonize air travel. While this landmark investment represents meaningful action by American Airlines, driving progress at the scale and pace we need requires critical policy action in Washington and at the State level. Alongside our oneworld partners, we’re proud to lead the way in the shift to SAF and make progress toward our shared climate goals.”

American’s Gevo agreement was developed alongside others in the oneworld® alliance. In September 2020, oneworld became the first global airline alliance to announce a target of carbon neutrality by 2050, establishing its commitment to long-term sustainability for the industry. The alliance followed up that commitment with an intermediate goal to achieve 10% SAF use across the member airlines by 2030.

The agreement brings American’s total low-carbon fuel commitments to more than 620 million gallons — fulfilling roughly 20% of the airline’s goal to replace 10% of jet fuel usage with SAF by 2030. The SAF deliveries are expected to begin in 2026 from future commercial operations of Gevo.

“The expansion of the global development of the SAF marketplace has reached an exciting point,” said Dr. Patrick R. Gruber, Gevo’s Chief Executive Officer. “While there is a tremendous amount of work to complete to bring all the critical elements of net-zero carbon SAF to the marketplace, our memoranda of understanding with oneworld alliance members and this subsequent commitment from American Airlines demonstrates the important momentum that is building for these types of products. I’m thrilled that Gevo is poised to continue to provide leadership for this product development.”

American’s aggressive climate goals include achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. That includes becoming the first airline globally to receive validation from the Science Based Targets initiative for its 2035 GHG emissions reduction targets. In 2021, American received a CDP Climate Change score of “A-” — the highest score among airlines in North America, and one of only two airlines globally to score that high. The company’s most recent ESG Report further details its forward-looking goals for the coming years and its progress to date.

Turkish Airlines to launch new platform to balance carbon footprint

Turkish Airlines, via its official Facebook, announced (20-Jul-2022) plans to launch a new Co2mission Platform from 01-Aug-2022.

The carrier stated: "Our passengers can contribute to a greener future by balancing their carbon footprint voluntarily".

Airports Authority of India: 14 AAI airports are 100% powered by renewable energy

Airports Authority of India (AAI), via its official Twitter account, reported (21-Jul-2022) 14 AAI airports are 100% powered by renewable energy at present, including Puducherry AirportShimla AirportLeh AirportSrinagar AirportDehradun Airport and Tezu Airport.

 India's Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia, via his personal Twitter account, stated (20-Jul-2022) the Ministry of Civil Aviation "is ambitiously pursuing the decarbonisation of 94 out of 110 airports owned by AAI by 2024", adding: "Sustainable aviation fuel for airlines is also being looked into aggressively".

Air BP calls for SAF blending mandates to incorporate supply and delivery factors

Air BP global head of sustainability Andreea Moyes stated (25-Jul-2022) Air BP is calling for the complexities of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) supply and delivery to be considered when implementing SAF blending mandates.

Details include:

  • Ms Moyes said the EU's SAF blending mandate "will require multiple supporting policies including preferential feedstock access for the aviation sector and a long term framework to support SAF production";
  • Air BP is also seeking the implementation of mass balancing centres from which SAF can be delivered to air transport hubs, rather than having SAF available at all airports, to reduce the regulatory cost burden and simplify logistics;
  • Just 10 airports account for more than 50% of jet fuel demand in Europe. Ms Moyes said: "Requiring SAF to be delivered to every airport at low blending levels could lead to multiple trips... which would counteract the benefits of SAF by generating additional carbon emissions". The requirement will be "less pressing once higher blending levels are achieved across the full supply chain".

Ms Moyes stated: "Increasing SAF supply shouldn't be about how much of the fuel is being delivered into one particular airport or aircraft. Ultimately it should come down to how much SAF is replacing conventional fossil fuel overall and ensuring SAF is delivered as efficiently as possible and with minimal carbon emissions".

She added: "The aim should be to get SAF delivered, ideally via pipeline, in large volumes to primary hubs with better and more flexible infrastructure and higher aircraft movements". [more - original PR]

Original report: Logistical Considerations for SAF Mandates

To scale up production and increase supply, blending mandates alongside other regulatory measures, including incentives to bridge the gap with conventional jet fuel, are being introduced in countries around the world.

Air BP

While the aviation industry remains committed to increasing production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to help decarbonize the industry, limited production capacity and cost premiums over conventional fossil fuels mean that SAF currently comprises less than 0.1% of total aviation fuel consumption. To scale up production and increase supply, blending mandates alongside other regulatory measures, including incentives to bridge the gap with conventional jet fuel, are being introduced in countries around the world.

In July 2021, as part of the European Union’s (EU’s) strategy to reduce emissions 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, the ‘Fit for 55’ package of regulatory proposals was announced. A central component of this decarbonization plan is a blending mandate for SAF via the ReFuel Eu Aviation Initiative. It outlines that from 2030, the aviation fuel made available to EU airports should contain 5% SAF, increasing to 63% by 2050. 

Blending mandates as a way of stimulating demand are welcomed, however Air BP is calling for the complexities of SAF supply and delivery to be factored in when implementing these mandates. 

In particular, the EU’s SAF blending mandate will require multiple supporting policies including preferential feedstock access for the aviation sector and a long-term framework to support SAF production. In addition, Air BP is calling for the implementation of mass balancing centers from which SAF can be delivered into select air transport hubs, to decrease the regulatory cost burden and simplify logistics, rather than SAF being available at all airports. 

As detailed in the graphic, over 50% of demand for jet fuel in Europe comes from just 10 airports. Requiring SAF to be delivered to every airport at low blending levels could lead to multiple trips (primarily using heavy goods vehicles), which would counteract the benefits of SAF by generating additional carbon emissions. This requirement will however be less pressing once higher blending levels are achieved across the full supply chain.

Increasing SAF supply shouldn’t be about how much of the fuel is being delivered into one particular airport or aircraft. Ultimately it should come down to how much SAF is replacing conventional fossil fuel overall and ensuring SAF is delivered as efficiently as possible and with minimal carbon emissions.

The European landscape cannot be classified with just one type of airport – as we frequently hear, there is no “one size fits all” model. Segregating fuels so they can be transferred to dedicated airport refueling tanks or trucks and delivering SAF to every airport as some mandates require are neither practical nor environmentally friendly solutions. Ultimately it should come down to how much SAF is replacing conventional fossil fuel overall and ensuring SAF is delivered as efficiently as possible and with minimal carbon emissions. 

The aim should be to get SAF delivered, ideally via pipeline, in large volumes to primary hubs with better and more flexible infrastructure and higher aircraft movements. Mass balancing enables fuel suppliers to meet SAF targets within a country or region by delivering the necessary SAF quota to a particular airport or several larger locations rather than physically moving small volumes to every single airport. 

In line with this mass balancing approach, initiatives such as Air BP’s book and claim system also help broaden SAF’s reach. It enables customers to access SAF carbon reductions without being physically connected to the supply site. Although fuel suppliers are working hard to scale up SAF supplies, the complexities of creating supply chains and moving SAF around Europe mean it is currently out of reach for many potential customers. Air bp would like to open its book and claim system to wider market adoption. This will provide customers with ongoing and greater access to SAF while waiting for it to be physically available across a global supply chain. 

While SAF is recognized as the front runner to achieving widescale decarbonization of the aviation sector in the immediate future, producing SAF in every country and making it available at every airport is neither viable nor a cost-effective solution. A deep understanding of what is required based on feedstocks available, technical pathways, processing methods, testing and blending logistics is key to the wider roll out of SAF. As such, the success of blending mandates currently being implemented will rely on the input, and expertise of suppliers such as Air bp who are already heavily engaged in ensuring SAF can be supplied at scale not just in the short term but up to and beyond 2050.


This blog was provided by Andreea Moyes, Air BP’s global head of sustainability

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