"Accelerating Development
& Commercialization of
Sustainable Aviation Fuel"

Case Study: Qantas

Australia's first sustainable aviation fuel flight

Australia’s first commercial flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel readies for takeoff
Australia's first commercial flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel readies for takeoff
On 13 April 2012, Qantas Airways operated Australia's first commercial flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel. The flight, QF1211 departed from Sydney at 10.20am AEST and arrived in Adelaide at 12.05pm AEST. The Airbus A330 was partly powered by biofuel derived from used cooking oil, produced by SkyNRG. The fuel, a 50:50 blend of biofuel and conventional jet fuel, was certified for use in commercial aviation by international standards body, ASTM. The life cycle carbon footprint of the biofuel component of the blend is approximately 60 per cent smaller than that of conventional jet fuel.

A few days later, on 19 April 2012, Qantas Airways’ subsidiary, Jetstar, became the world’s first low cost carrier to operate a commercial biofuel flight. It used the same fuel blend as the Qantas flight in one of its A320s on a flight between Melbourne and Hobart.

With fuel costs, environmental concerns and carbon pricing affecting airlines around the world, the Qantas Group is taking the lead in advocating the development of a sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism Hon Martin Ferguson MP and Shell Executive Ann Pickard at the pre-flight event.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism Hon Martin Ferguson MP and Shell Executive Ann Pickard at the pre-flight event.
The objective of the Qantas and Jetstar commercial demonstration flights was to raise awareness about the potential benefits and need for sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia.

Results

According to the technical pilots operating both the Qantas and Jetstar flights, an approximate 1-2% fuel efficiency improvement was gained on the engine 50:50 powered by biofuel, due to its higher energy density. The biofuel powered engines also operated at more optimal temperatures compared to the engines powered by traditional jet fuel, which would likely present long term maintenance cost benefits.

Supplier, sustainability and fuel choice

As the preeminent supplier of sustainable aviation fuel, SkyNRG were chosen as the supplier for the Qantas and Jetstar commercial demonstration flights. Importantly SkyNRG had a proven track record of supplying sustainable aviation fuel to commercial airlines worldwide as well as strong and robust sustainability credentials.

Qantas is a signatory to the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Users Group pledge and understands the vital role the pledge plays in enabling a socially and environmentally acceptable aviation biofuel industry.

Jetstar is the world’s first low cost carrier to have a commercial flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel. Here David Hal, CEO Jetstar Australia & New Zealand with the A320 involved
Jetstar is the world's first low cost carrier to have a commercial flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel. Here David Hal, CEO Jetstar Australia & New Zealand with the A320 involved
As a member of SAFUG, Qantas will only use biofuel that meets a range of sustainability criteria, including a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions, and minimal negative impact on biodiversity and food supply.

The biofuel used for the Qantas and Jetstar flights was refined from used cooking oil in the United States. Being a waste product with a life cycle emissions reduction of around 60 per cent compared to regular jet fuel, it met all of Qantas’ and SkyNRG’s sustainability requirements.

Planning and logistics

Qantas Strategic Procurement – Fuel, Carbon and Aviation Charges were responsible for the planning, coordination and delivery of Australia’s first sustainable aviation fuel flights, with support from Group Environment and Qantas Engineering, Flight Operations and Corporate Communications. Importantly, Qantas Procurement managed the acquisition and distribution of the sustainable aviation fuel, including shipment from the United States to Sydney, coordinating Customs requirements on arrival and facilitating the transportation and storage to Qantas premises.

Flight Path to Sustainable Aviation Roadmap

In 2011, to accelerate the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel, Qantas worked with aviation stakeholders on a world first SAF Industry Roadmap relevant to Australia and New Zealand titled Flight Path to Sustainable Aviation. This work was led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia's peak scientific agency.

The roadmap built on international developments, but focussed on the unique advantages and challenges of the Australia and New Zealand region. Specifically, it looked at addressing barriers to a commercial and scalable sustainable aviation fuel industry by bringing together stakeholders from aviation, science, traditional transport fuel supply, finance, government and environmental NGOs.

The roadmap makes a case for an Australian and New Zealand bio-derived jet fuel industry that could create numerous significant benefits over the next 20 years including:

  • Economic value - Reduce Australia's reliance on fuel imports by over A$2 billion per annum and create an new clean energy industry that could export to the world;
  • Social value - Generate more than 12,000 clean energy jobs, especially in regional Australia and improve Australia's energy security; and
  • Environmental value - Decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent in the Australian aviation sector.

Growing a viable SAF industry

Many of the technical hurdles facing the aviation industry in its move towards sustainable aviation fuel have now been overcome and much of this work has been achieved within the industry. Now, commercialisation and scaling up of the supply of sustainable aviation fuel is the most important task which will require support from all stakeholders, including government and finance sectors.

Qantas is playing its part by leading aviation industry efforts towards establishing a commercial sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia. Speaking ahead of Qantas’ biofuel flights in April 2012, Australia’s Resources Minister Martin Ferguson also announced Australian Government funding for a feasibility study into aviation biofuel production in Australia, to be carried out by Qantas and Shell. The study will identify current issues and obstacles in sustainable aviation fuel refining and outline options for establishment of bio-refinery capabilities in Australia and will be completed by April 2013.