United Airlines announced Wednesday that it will operate a commercial carrier flight full of passengers using 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) – the first airline in the industry to do so.
The company also announced the second round of corporate participants in the airline’s Eco-Skies Alliance program that collectively contributes towards purchasing SAF. A leader in the usage and support for SAF, United has agreements to purchase nearly twice as much SAF as the known agreements of all other global airlines combined.
Made with non-petroleum feedstocks, SAF has the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel, but at a fraction of its carbon footprint.
“United continues to lead from the front when it comes to climate change action,” said United CEO Scott Kirby, who flew onboard Wednesday’s SAF flight. “Today’s SAF flight is not only a significant milestone for efforts to decarbonize our industry, but when combined with the surge in commitments to produce and purchase alternative fuels, we’re demonstrating the scalable and impactful way companies can join together and play a role in addressing the biggest challenge of our lifetimes.”
The demonstration flight, a new United 737 MAX 8, left Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport with more than 100 passengers and landed at Washington, D.C.’s Reagan International Airport. The flight will use 500 gallons of SAF in one engine and the same amount of conventional fuel in the other engine to prove there are no operational differences between the two and to set the stage for more scalable uses of SAF in the future. Currently, airlines can only use a maximum of 50 percent SAF on board.