30 March 2023

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

Neste in SAF deals with Wizz Air and Boeing, and supplies first 100% SAF helicopter flight

Finnish renewable fuels producer Neste is to supply sustainable aviation fuel to Wizz Air, which provides the low-cost carrier the opportunity to purchase 36,000 tonnes of SAF per year over a period of three years to use across its route network in Europe and the UK. The SAF volumes to be purchased are a key part of the airline’s environmental strategy to reduce carbon emissions intensity per passenger km by 25% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. Boeing has also reached an agreement with Neste to purchase 5.6 million gallons (21.2m litres) of blended SAF supplied by Neste’s partners EPIC Fuels, Signature Aviation and Avfuel to power its US commercial operations through 2023. Still in the United States, a collaboration involving Neste, Bell, Safran Helicopter Engines, GKN Aerospace and Virent has resulted in the first-ever single-engine helicopter to fly using 100% SAF.

In 2022, Airbus aircraft operator Wizz Air achieved its lowest-ever annual carbon intensity, which amounted to 55.2 grams per passenger/km, and picked up a number of industry sustainability awards.

“We continue to invest in innovative technology and believe that SAF is a key part of the solution for decarbonising the aviation industry,” said Ian Malin, EVP and Group CFO at Wizz Air. “The partnership with Neste reaffirms our progress in reducing our carbon emissions intensity, which is already one of the lowest in the world.”

Responded Jonathan Wood, VP Europe, Renewable Aviation at Neste: “We look forward to working with Wizz Air on the reduction of their carbon emissions, as we increase our annual SAF production to 1.5 million tonnes by the end of 2023.”

The purchase by Boeing more than doubles its SAF procurement from last year. The SAF will be blended with conventional jet fuel at a 30/70 ratio, with the volume of SAF supplied by Neste totalling around 1.7 million gallons. EPIC, Signature and Avfuel will supply the blended SAF for Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator programme and the company’s fuel storage in Washington state and South Carolina. Additionally, the three companies will supply blended SAF for generating emissions reduction benefits for Boeing to allocate for company operations including Dreamlifter and executive flights, and commercial airplane deliveries.

“As one of the top aircraft manufacturers in the world, Boeing is sending a clear message to the entire aviation industry through this purchase that SAF is a key solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from flying,” said Michael Sargeant, VP Americas, Renewable Aviation at Neste.

The 100% SAF-powered flight of the Bell 505 in Texas had been preceded by rigorous testing by Safran Helicopter Engines, the manufacturer of the helicopter’s Arrius 2R engine, and GKN Aerospace, the fuel system component supplier. Neste collaborated with Virent, the supplier of the bio-based aromatic additive, to blend, test and deliver the SAF as a 100% drop-in fuel.

“Neste is working closely with forerunners in the aviation industry on verifying that aircraft can run safely on 100% SAF,” said Wood. “This successful collaboration demonstrates that we are one step closer to enabling the entire aviation industry to take full advantage of 100% SAF as the key means to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions of air travel.”

Michael Thacker, EVP Commercial Business for Bell, said the flight was “a monumental achievement” for the sustainability and decarbonisation of the rotorcraft aircraft. “Showcasing a single-engine aircraft’s flight capabilities with 100% SAF signals Bell’s commitment to alternative fuel usage and builds on its sustainability practices in its flight operations,” he added.

Photo (Bell): The first-ever 100% SAF single-engine helicopter flight