First All-SAF Airliner Flies


A Swedish regional airline is claiming the first flight of a commercial airliner with all the tanks filled with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Braathens Regional Airlines flew a prototype ATR 72-600 with artificial kerosene powering both engines. ATR, the airline and an unnamed fuel producer have been testing the concept for a year and got rid of the safety net this week.

“Today is a historic day for aviation. After more than a century of commercial flights powered by kerosene, we are at the dawn of a new era,” said ATR CEO Stefan Bortoli. “The flight represents a true milestone for the entire aviation industry as it shows that this technology works and can be promptly adopted by many in our industry to speed up the transition to low-emission aviation.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Biodiesel is not historic.

    “Today is a historic day for aviation. After more than a century of commercial flights powered by kerosene, we are at the dawn of a new era.”

    God only knows how much it would cost to have enough biodiesel to power all the transport category aircraft in the world, or what that would do to the environment, food supply, and economy.

  2. Doesn’t burning fake kerosene produce the same “greenhouse” gases as real kerosene?

  3. Nice story, but the numbers unfortunately add up as any sort of sustainable solution to the eventual need to transition from fossils.

    The international standard for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is ASTM D7566, which only allows for “up to a 50-50 blend of biomass-derived blending components and petroleum jet fuel.” You start with plane old D1655 or equiv. milspec kero and then add some bio product.

    So at MAXIMUM permissible, SAF is still at least half kero. It’s misleading to say “After more than a century of commercial flights powered by kerosene, we are at the dawn of a new era,”” Nope, they are not. Without at least half kero in the tank they are not going anywhere. Also, they did not disclose their blend – It could have been 99% kero and 1% bio and they could still pat themselves on the back since that can be called SAF according to specs.

    The aviation industry uses 95 billion gallons on a typical year

    All of the vegetable oil in the world for you know… eating and other nice stuff like cooking, cosmetics, lubrication, and 8% of the current diesel process, adds up to only 60 billion gallons a year.

    Aviation is only 10% of petroleum used, so to move to biofuels in general, in total we’re talking about about needing 1.5 trillion gallons of something with equivalent energy

    so to recap:
    – All the veg oil in the world, (very important for us to live) – 60 bil gal
    – What planes need – 95 bil gal
    – What we’d need to move off of petroleum fuels in general – 1,490 bil gal

    (Of course, even if we gave up eating, not all 60 bil gal would be available as fuel)

    You could get some bump from used oil (the market is currently about 6 bil gal annually worldwide) assuming you can get a net positive energy result from capturing it. (Veg oil does not contain same energy density as kero)

    Yes we can make more veggie oil, but the easiest and cheapest and most popular oil is palm, which is an environmental and ecological nightmare that is undeniably a net energy loss. I think we’ve all seen the data that growing corn for fuel is actually a net energy loss.

    So unfortunately, we need to find something else to move off of dinosaurs, the numbers are no where near adding up to a viable solution for biomass aviation fuel.

    Stories like this remind me of when the local news shows a 8 yr old girl holding a bake sale to pay off the national debt – it’s not a bad idea per se, but unfortunately it would not go very far in solving the problem…