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9H-UEC Makes First Flight Using Sustainable Aviation Fuel   

9H-UEC Makes First Flight Using Sustainable Aviation Fuel   

Airbus ACJ318 9H-UEC, managed and operated by Comlux Malta, has made its first flight using Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

The flight from Singapore‘s Seletar Airport to Clark Airport in the Philippines took approximately three and a half hours.

According to the Captain in charge of the flight, Marco Pistorello, the flight operated as normal, with no noticeable differences between using traditional jet fuel and SAF, both from his point of view and a later engineering inspection of the aircraft.

“From a piloting point of view there were literally no changes from Jet A-1, same from the engineering side,” said Captain Pistorello. “We know that Airbus aircraft are certificated up to 50% SAF, so from an operational point of view it was just a normal flight.”

To undertake the flight a small working group was set up, which included Comlux, as well as Airbus and Transport Malta – the country’s transport authority where the aircraft is registered, to ensure that the flight could go ahead.

“Once approval was given, we were able to load around 12,000 liters more or less of SAF. The blend of SAF was up to 31%, a bit short of 31%, because that’s the only blend that is psychically available here in Asia at the moment,” says Captain Pistorello.

Although the first flight using SAF had been planned for some time, low supplies of the fuel in the region have prevented it from going ahead before.

Singapore is the only city in Asia that currently has SAF at both Changi International Airport and Seletar Airport. However, despite this, Captain Pistorello says that it still took two weeks to arrange with Shell for the supply of the SAF used.

“Of course, we are happy and proud to be the first in Asia to try this new fuel and what we would love of course, as an operator, is to have SAF available everywhere because it’s impossible to find it at the moment,” says Captain Pistorello. “The other thing we have to look at is pricing, as it costs between three to five times more than the price of Jet A-1.”

Despite the increased costs associated with using SAF, Captain Pistorello says that the aircraft will continue to use it as and when it is possible. It will also be able to use higher blends of SAF in the future – now it has effectively been certificated it can use blends up to 50%.

“As an operator, we are now certificated to fly with SAF, if we can find it,” says Captain Pistorello. “In Singapore, we will be using it, but what worries me is the availability. We tried to scan all around Asia, but no airports had it other than Singapore. And as far as I am aware, worldwide it is only around 1% of airports that have it.”