Cooperation Between China Eastern and Airbus Achieves First Sustainable Aviation Fuel Delivery Flight in China

2022-10-25 10:07:00 Source:China Today Author:China Today
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On October 12, 2022, at the Airbus China Delivery Center in Tianjin, China Eastern Airlines received a brand new A320neo aircraft, which used five percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for its maiden flight from Tianjin to Xi'an. This achievement is not only a landmark in Airbus’s ability to achieve an SAF delivery flight in China, but also shows that China Eastern Airlines has conducted in-depth research on sustainable development measures in the industry, as well as its willingness to cooperate with an industry chain partner to promote energy conservation and carbon emission reduction, so that China Eastern Airlines’ “green flight, green track” can help achieve China’s carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals.  

SAF is an alternative fuel produced from animal and vegetable oils and fats, oilseeds, used cooking oil, urban solid waste and agricultural and forestry waste. Compared to traditional fossil fuels, SAF can reduce carbon emissions by up to 85 percent from the collection of raw material to its usage at the end. 

It is reported that the SAF used in the delivery this time was produced by Sinopec Zhenhai Refining & Chemical Company using waste oil from catering as raw materials. This is the first batch of domestic SAF after the large-scale production of China's first sustainable aviation fuel plant came true. 

Carbon emission has been a key issue in the field of civil aviation and also to China Eastern Airlines. As a main player in the civil aviation industry, China Eastern Airlines follows the new development philosophy, actively fulfills its social responsibilities, and strives to achieve ever-greener flights. It has been paying attention to and strongly supportive of the development of sustainable fuels, and actively exploring "carbon offsets" in flight operations.  

As early as April 24, 2013, China Eastern Airlines had obtained the No. 1 Bio-Jet Fuel Chartered Flight Permit issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), and operated the first flight in China using bio-jet fuel over which the country has independent intellectual property right. On September 22, 2021, the first anniversary of China's announcement to the international community of its carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals, China Eastern Airlines together with Sinopec, and COSCO Shipping jointly held the certification ceremony of China’s first ship of “full lifecycle carbon neutral oil” in Shanghai. Being the only civil aviation company participating in this project, China Eastern Airlines started domestic flights operating on aviation kerosene refined from this very ship's oil, starting with Flight MU5103 from Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA) to Beijing Capital (PEK) on October 12 of the same year. A total of 516 flights that departed from Shanghai and flew over 13 routes, carrying 57,118 passengers, have participated in this "full lifecycle carbon neutrality" of aviation fuel from oil fields to high altitudes. 

From the application of new types of fuel to jet fuel saving, from improving fuel efficiency to low-carbon operation, China Eastern Airlines has carried out a series of energy-saving and carbon-reduction efforts in the air and on the ground in accordance with characteristics of the industry and its operations. The company has continued to renew its fleet and introduced a new generation of modern passenger aircraft with higher fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions, making it one of the youngest fleets in the international civil aviation industry. Focusing on the replacement of aircraft auxiliary power units (APUs) and the "oil-to-electricity transition" of ground vehicles, it has effectively saved fuel and reduced carbon emissions. Its fleet has continuously carried out special fuel cost control. From 2015 to 2019 alone, fuel efficiency has improved by 4.5 percent. 

China Eastern Airlines is also the first in the Asian civil aviation industry to use Electronic Flight Bags (EFB) for its entire fleet, and the first in China's civil aviation industry to officially use electronic flight record books (ELB) instead of paper flight record books. Aircraft winglet installations as well as engine modifications have been continuously promoted in the fleet in order to improve fuel efficiency. By adopting single-engine taxiing in flight operations and new navigation technology such as GLS (Satellite Landing System) and HUD (Head-Up Display System), the company has effectively reduced fuel consumption and emissions during flight descent. China Eastern Airlines has launched the "Five-One Project," which stands for "one drop of jet fuel, one drop of gasoline/diesel oil, one kilowatt hour of electricity, one drop of water, and one ray of sunshine", making the "China Eastern Plan" of energy conservation and carbon emission reduction (green flight) continue to serve the entire industry and help the whole society achieve the goals of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality.

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