Airbus and TotalEnergies enter partnership for SAF

European aerospace corporation Airbus and French oil company TotalEnergies are joining forces to address sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) challenges. The partnership should contribute to reducing CO2 emissions from the aviation sector to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Eventually, SAF supplied by TotalEnergies can reduce up to 90% of CO2 emissions over their lifecycle compared to their fossil fuel equivalent.

The partnership includes TotalEnergies’ SAF offering of more than half of what Airbus needs in Europe. It also includes a research and innovation program to develop 100% sustainable fuels adapted to current and future aircraft design.

The impact of the composition of sustainable aviation fuels on the reduction of CO2 emissions and non-CO2 effects, such as contrails, will also be studied within the partnership. The latter, whose impact is still poorly measured, contributes to the greenhouse effect.

SAFs are still three to five times more expensive than kerosine because they are produced in small quantities. There are also different types of SAF. Some are bio-based, from plants, such as wood residues, frying oil from rapeseed, etc. Others are synthetic fuels, also called electro fuels (e-fuels), obtained by combining low-carbon hydrogen with CO2 from the air.

1.5 million tons of SAF annually

TotalEnergies, the world’s fourth-largest oil group, has been supplying the SAF used by Airbus for its internal needs in Toulouse since 2016. Last year, 10% SAF was used for test flights of aircraft and helicopters and delivery flights to customers. By 2030, this share should be increased to 30%, according to Airbus chief Guillaume Faury.

Airbus’s recent aircraft and those of Boeing are already certified to fly with 50% SAF mixed with kerosine and 100% as soon as regulations allow.

TotalEnergies began producing SAF in France in 2021. The group plans to roll out its production this year, including at the Grandpuis refinery. The goal is to deliver 1.5 million tons of SAF annually by 2030. Its SAF will also have to meet the needs of the successor for the A320neo, an ultra-efficient aircraft, which Airbus plans to launch around 2026-2028.

An impression of the future hydrogen-powered airplane that Airbus wants to build /Airbus

Focusing on hydrogen

Airbus, the world leader in commercial aviation, aims to bring the world’s first hydrogen-powered airplane into service by 2035. The capacity and range of that airplane will rather be like that of a small regional jet for 50 to 70 passengers and not at all like that of an A320 aircraft, one of the most popular among their aircraft types.

Airbus recently signed other SAF agreements, such as with Avinor and Swedavia, the Norwegian and Swedish airport operators, the flight company SAS, and the energy company Vattenfall, to explore the feasibility of a hydrogen infrastructure at more than 50 airports in the two Nordic countries. The aircraft manufacturer received a record number of orders last year for 2094 aircraft.

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