Abu Dhabi-based Etihad is claiming to have made the world’s first commercial flight using locally-produced sustainable fuel.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, powered by GE GEnx-IB engines, flew from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam, said the airline.
Sustainable fuel for the flight was derived from oil in Salicornia plants, which were grown on a two-hectare seawater farm in Masdar City, which is the world’s first desert ecosystem designed to produce both fuel and food in saltwater. Fish and shrimp raised at the Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS) facility provide nutrients for the plants and contribute to the UAE’s food production.
Etihad group CEO Tony Douglas said: “This is a significant milestone for the UAE and its key industries. Etihad is fully committed to this project which demonstrates a successful proof of concept that is local, viable, cost-effective and sustainable.
“Decarbonisation is important across the aviation industry and, together with our partners, Etihad is proud to be at the forefront of this pioneering new research.”
Over the course of the next few years, the SEAS facility is expected to scale up to 200 hectares in the move towards full-scale commercial implementation.
Sean Schwinn, VP of strategy and market development for Boeing International, said: “Etihad’s flight proves SEAS is a game-changer that can substantially benefit air transport and the world. The research and technology being developed shows significant promise to transform coastal deserts into productive farmland supporting food security and cleaner skies.”