& Commercialization of
Sustainable Aviation Fuel"
Case Study: Air France
Air France flew the world’s most CO2 efficient flight on October 13, 2011, using a HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids) biokerosene. This flight was powered by a 50% mixture of sustainable aviation biofuel and traditional kerosene. The biofuel has been produced from Used Cooking Oil (UCO) and the certified blend has been supplied to Toulouse by SkyNRG (Joint Venture of KLM, North Sea Group and Spring Associates) and put on board the Air France A321 by Airbus. Sustainable biofuel development is a priority of the group Air France –KLM whose strategy is to explore the entire value chain from research to commercialization.
As soon as the HEFA has been certified (June 2011), Air France decided to realize the most economic CO2 commercial in accordance with its Air France-KLM Climate Action Plan strategy since 2007 (see page 49 CSR Report Air France KLM 2012 ). Air France used sustainable biofuel, and combined all its energy saving measures simultaneously. To reduce fuel and so CO2 consumption , pilots in coordination with traffic control, applied all the most fuel-efficient procedures and trajectories, including the use of electrically powered ramp equipment , taxiing using just one engine, continuous ascent from Toulouse airport, a higher cruising altitude (34 000 feet rather than 24 000 feet) and a continuous descent approach towards Paris Orly Airport.
This flight also allowed to involve its staff in the new processes involved by biofuel introduction and to teach people in general about aviation huge efforts with regard to climate change fight.
The Team Involved Was Composed By
Internal: CSR team to coordinate the project, fuel department to purchase the biofuel, flight operations department to ensure about safety respect of the flight, station staff in order to respect the airport logistics aspects(refueling by tank and not by hydrant) , fleet department and maintenance staff.
External: SkyNRG to supply the certified biofuel in coordination with Airbus in order to put the biofuel on board; Air Traffic control services in order to allow the most efficient trajectories.
Sustainability criteria taken into account & Fuel supplier selection
Air France and KLM are members of the RSB (Roundtable of Sustainable Biofuels), within SAFUG. In parallel, SkyNRG is advised by an independent sustainability board, composed of WWF-NL, Solidaridad and the Copernicus Institute of the University of Utrecht. In the contracts they establish with their new suppliers, Air France and KLM asks its suppliers to assess the full life-cycle GHG emissions of their biofuels. Nevertheless, the lack of maturity of the existing processes does not allow yet optimization of the full supply chain.
Fuel Acquisition and Fuel distribution
Dynamic Fuels supplied the fuel via SkyNRG.
Communication With Staff & the Marketing Efforts
Air France realized a flyer in order to explain its passengers about the flight AF6129 realized on the 13th of October 2011 (see here attached). A press kit was provided to the journalists who covered the event. Some pictures and those documents can today be found on Air France corporate web site. This flight raised a big interest among all the media: television news, radio, national and international press, record of "Like" on the page Facebook of Air France and Twitter.
Stakeholders' feedback after the flight
Passengers were very happy to be on board on this exceptional commercial flight (some interviews of passengers have been published on internet) . The staff of Air France was very pleased to participate to this new challenge and now expect biofuel to become business as usual.
Flying with biofuel is not anymore a technical issue (no aircraft or engine modification is required) but many challenges remain along the whole supply chain: supplying the biofuel at airports where no tank refueling is possible (only hydrant network such as Paris airport), legal and insurance aspects, fuel airport infrastructures belong very often to fuel suppliers consortium which do not include yet new biofuel supplier, etc… The price of biofuel is still an issue today since no airline can afford large quantity of biofuel which is at a minimum twice more expensive than fossil kerosene. The sustainability aspects are not mature enough, especially regarding LUC (Land Use Change) aspects.