CHICAGO – United Airlines successfully conducted a test flight Wednesday from Chicago to Washington, D.C., using sustainable aviation fuel in one of two engines.
United said it was the first time in aviation history that a commercial carrier flew passengers using 100% SAF in an engine.
The airline said in a statement that the 737 MAX 8 aircraft used 500 gallons of SAF in one engine and the same amount of jet fuel in the other engine to prove that there were no operational differences between the two.
It’s estimated that the 612-mile flight emitted 75% less carbon dioxide than an aircraft using traditional jet fuel.
The Federal Aviation Administration said they approved Wednesday’s flight but with strict restrictions, since United proposed flying the Boeing aircraft with fuel that was not agency certified.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions estimates that the aviation industry is only responsible for around three percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.
Despite the amount of low emissions, groups such as United, Boeing and U.S. Department of Energy have been focusing their efforts on SAF as an eventual replacement for today’s conventional jet fuel.
The Department of Energy says the greener fuel is typically made up of feedstock from farming communities.
Experts say the fuel burns clear, which reduces emissions, especially during times of take-off and landing.
"We have to make real change if we are ever going to address this problem," said United CEO Scott Kirby.
United previously stated it plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by the year 2050.