Boeing (BA) has announced it will begin to deliver commercial airplanes capable of flying on 100% biofuel, or sustainable aviation fuel, by 2030.
The aviation giant said that reducing environmental damage from fossil fuels was the “challenge of our lifetime.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) plans to cut carbon emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050, meaning Boeing’s biofuel target is 2030, as jetliners typically are in service for around 20 years.
While the planemaker has about 10 years to reach its goal, it is not the first time the company used biofuel. In 2018, Boeing successfully flew the world’s first commercial flight using 100% biofuel.
To deliver on its vow and power aircraft with biofuel, or fuel derived from living matter, Boeing will need to work with engine makers and change its aircraft systems. It also needs to receive safety certification from global regulators.
“It’s a tremendous challenge, it’s the challenge of our lifetime,” Boeing director of sustainability strategy Sean Newsum told Reuters. “Aviation is committed to doing its part to reduce its carbon footprint.”
According to the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) commercial flying currently accounts for about 2% of all carbon dioxide emissions and about 12% of transport emissions.
ATAG says around 80% of aviation emissions are emitted from flights of over 932 miles (1,500 kilometers), and that have no practical alternative mode of transport.
Currently, biofuels are mixed directly with conventional jet fuel up to a 50/50 blend, which is the maximum allowed under current fuel specifications, the company said.
The planemaker and its European rival Airbus SE (AIR.PA) are also working on minimising carbon emissions through weight and drag reduction on new aircraft.
It comes as the world’s largest aerospace company is grappling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the 20-month grounding of its 737 MAX planes following two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.
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