It’s not just about fuels: It’s about the future: Why increasing Sustainable Aviation Fuel production and use is imperative

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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Róman Kok, EBAA.

This article is part of our special report Sustainable aviation fuels.

As we stand at the eve of what many argue should be the “green recovery” of the economy, Business Aviation is advancing tangible emission reductions. Here is what you need to know about Business Aviation and sustainability, and why increasing the production and deployment of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) should be a priority for the EU institutions.

Nicolas Chabbert is the Chairman of the Board of Directors at GAMA and Juergen Wiese

is the Chairman of the Board of Governors at EBAA.

For those who are curious about Business Aviation, the sector plays a crucial role in European connectivity and is a substantial contributor to the European economy. Our industry is known by many names: unscheduled aviation, private jets, corporate flying and general aviation. One thing is for sure, Business Aviation is an industry that provides a solution when time matters most, serving as a lifeline for communities, be it for medical transport or as a tool to help governments and businesses generate local economic development and has a strong history of assisting in times of crisis. 

Too quiet for too long

The Business Aviation community has long been committed to reducing the environmental impact of its products and operations. In fact, in many ways, it has been ahead of the curve in mitigating its impact on climate change. 

In 2009, six years before the world-renowned Paris Agreement, the sector resolved to do more. Business Aviation stakeholders jointly developed an aggressive programme entitled the Business Aviation Commitment on Climate Change, also known as the BACCC. To this end, the community committed to specific targets: carbon-neutral growth from 2020; an improvement in fuel efficiency of an average of 2% per year from its publication until 2020; and a reduction in its total CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050 relative to 2005.

As a forward-looking industry, Business Aviation has been too quiet for too long about its proven track record of improved aircraft performance thanks to advanced airframe design and cutting-edge propulsion systems technology. Constant product evolution driven by research and development explains why our sector is the catalyst for innovation in aviation and a leader in decarbonising the aviation sector. 

The case for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

Here in Europe, we know that achieving our sector’s ambitions and working towards the European Green Deal objectives, means decoupling Business Aviation growth from emissions output, and committing to tangible solutions that we can implement today.  One of these solutions is SAF. Increased use of SAF by Business Aviation as soon as it becomes widely available will result in a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In fact, “neat” SAF (pure and unblended) can deliver a reduction in net life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of up to 80% versus petroleum-derived jet fuel.

With a technology that can bring clear and immediate reductions in GHG emissions, it becomes clear to anyone that SAF production should be ramped up swiftly and its use widely adopted. That is why the Business Aviation community organised the first-ever European Business Aviation Summit on SAF on 20 April 2021.  Organised by the Business Aviation Coalition for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), the Summit brought together stakeholders and policymakers from Europe and around the globe ahead of the highly anticipated publication of the European Commission’s ReFuelEU Aviation Initiative. The Summit provided an important platform to exchange views on how best to accelerate the production, distribution and use of SAF across Europe and globally.

At the conclusion of the Summit, in our role as key stakeholders in the Business Aviation Coalition for Sustainable Aviation Fuel, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), delivered a European Business Aviation Vision for SAF to all EU stakeholders to support the delivery of the EU’s and our Commitment’s climate targets. 

Taking action

SAF will play an instrumental role in reducing aviation emissions alongside other technologies such as power-to-liquids (future versions of SAF), electric, hybrid and hydrogen. It is important that we act now. With immediate prioritisation of advanced biofuels and increasing shares of synthetic fuels over time, SAF will become more economically competitive relative to conventional kerosene. Time is of the essence, and so is cooperation between industry and the European institutions. Together, we can achieve our climate objectives of at pace. Sustainable Aviation Fuel is key to unlocking emission reductions in the short, medium and long term – and everyone involved should want to ramp up its production, distribution and use as soon as possible.

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