DUBAI: Etihad Airways flew the first commercial flight powered by locally produced sustainable fuel Wednesday, Emirati airlines Etihad Airways reported on their website from an announcement by the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC).
The Boeing 787, flying from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam, used biofuel produced from the oil of Salicornia plants, which are grown in the Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS), in Masdar City near the UAE capital - Abu Dhabi.
The SEAS project is the world’s first desert ecosystem made specially to produce fuel and food in saltwater.
While Etihad is not the first airline to use biofuel in its aircraft, it is the first time in the UAE for the source of the biofuel to be grown and produced in the country.
“Etihad’s flight proves SEAS is a game-changer that can substantially benefit air transport and the world,” said Vice President of strategy and market development for Boeing International Sean Schwinn.
“The research and technology being developed shows significant promise to transform coastal deserts into productive farmland supporting food security and cleaner skies.”
The biofuel can be produced using existing refinery facilities, it can be blended with regular jet fuel, and used with existing aircraft, engines and airport fueling delivery systems
Biofuels were introduced for commercial flight use in 2011.
Since then nearly 160,000 passengers have flown on flights powered by a blend of sustainable and traditional jet fuels.
The water used for the SEAS project is drawn from fish and shrimp farmeries that produce food for the UAE.
The system is expected to expand to cover 2 mln square meters over the course of the next few years.