The Road To A Cleaner Sky: Can Planes Fly on 100% Sustainable Jet Fuel?

The Road To A Cleaner Sky: Can Planes Fly on 100% Sustainable Jet Fuel?

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is the key ingredient to keep flyers in the sky whilst reducing CO2 emissions.

As global aviation continues to see a gradual increase in demand, it is predicted that air traffic will double in 20 years. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, global CO2 emissions from commercial aviation activity in 2019 totalled 918 million metric tons with 85% stemming from passenger transport. While evidently this figured dropped in 2020 due to flight restrictions, by 2030 the air-transport sector alone will be responsible for 3.5 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, a 2.5 percent increase from current levels even with advancing aircraft efficiency. 

Unfortunately, unlike cars, commercial aircraft are yet to be powered electrically continuing to rely solely on fossil fuels for air travel. As it stands, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is the key ingredient to keep flyers in the sky whilst reducing CO2 emissions. 

What is SAF? 

Whereas conventional jet fuel is a hydrocarbon in nature, notably kerosene, biofuels used to power aircraft are derived from biomass – organic waste or plant sources such as algae, palm oil, Babassu and Jatropha amongst others. In addition, other technologies create synthetic biofuels extracted using solar reactors.

According to TotalEnergies, “The development of bio-jet fuels is one part of TotalEnergies​ strategy to meet the challenge of getting to net-zero carbon emissions.”

Whilst these alternatives to conventional fuels exists and are currently in use, they are limited to having a 50% blend with traditional jet fuel, overlooking their full ecological potentials. Unfortunately, while SAF is technically capable of powering aircraft alone, when used unblended it can result in engine malfunctions such as shrinking elastic tank seals leading to fuel leakage. Furthermore, the cost of biofuel production is three to four times more expensive than traditional jet fuel, a determining factor in its wide-scale application.

“Regulations are very strict in the aeronautical field and alternative fuels must be subject to the same rules as kerosene ensuring they can withstand extreme variations in temperature and pressure, whilst being compatible with all engine components. The other issue to consider is price, since jet fuel costs $550 per tonne whilst biofuel costs $1,700. This is one reason for the use of “drop-in” kerosene-sustainable hybrid fuels (up to 50%), since they burn less hydrocarbons without going over budget. says Olivier Rodrigues, Jet Fuel Trader at Eways Aviation.

Now with the pandemic easing to its end, several organisations are looking to overcome the operational challenges of biofuels researching 100% SAF-powered aircraft.

TotalEnergies has taken the initiative, already producing biofuel in its plants at La Mède in the South of France along with the Oudalle complex near Le Havre. Furthermore, the company is set to expand its SAF production by 2024 from the Grandpuits facility near Paris. To date, all of the company’s fuel is being produced using waste cooking oil and animal fats with no impact on agricultural food production. As of April 2021, the company has already begun supplying French airports with its alternative fuels. 

“By producing sustainable aviation fuel at our French sites today, we are able to respond to strong demand from an aviation industry looking to reduce its carbon footprint, while adapting our industrial resources. As a broad energy company, we support our customers by providing innovative solutions to reduce their emissions. This commitment is fully aligned with Total’s climate ambition to get to net zero emissions by 2050″ explains Bernard Pinatel – President of Refining & Chemicals – TotalEnergies.

The VOLCAN Project

Headed by the French Ministry of Transport, Vol Avec Carburants Alternatifs Nouveaux – Flight with New Alternative Fuel (VOLCAN) is a collaborative effort between some of the largest aviation conglomerates including Airbus, Safran and Dassault with biofuel provided by TotalEnergies. With a planned initiation by the end of 2021, the project comes as part of France’s post-pandemic aviation recovery plan. 

A single-aisle A320neo equipped with CFM LEAP-1A engines will be supplied with 100% SAF that will be used to collect flight data to further assess the performance of small aircraft, commercial flyers along with helicopters using biofuel. The study is also going to assess the safety of biofuel and provide further insight into the risks of biocontamination. 

ADAC – Luftrettung

Brought by the same corporate coalition and in collaboration with the German non-profit organization ADAC Luftrettung, they have successfully tested an Airbus H145 medical rescue helicopter flying on TotalEnergies SAF.

“For us, the Sustainable Aviation Fuel pilot project is a first big step on the way to a climate-neutral ADAC Foundation and air rescue service, and our contribution as a non-profit organisation to achieving the climate protection goals of Germany and Europe.” says Dr. Andrea David – CEO – ADAC Foundation.

The goal of the project is to limit annual greenhouse gas emissions by 33%, or 6,000 tons annually. If put into regular activity, this reduction could be achieved through 50,000 flights by SAF-powered helicopters flying over 3.3 million kilometres flown per year.

Going Green

While a decarbonized aviation industry was one day a dream, it is slowly coming to fruition thanks to the efforts of global air-transport leaders. While it is still the case that biofuel comes with technical complications and increased price over traditional hydrocarbons, the industry has taken the correct initiative to attack these problems that can realize the full-scale application of clean flight technology in the near future. At Eways Aviation we fully support the integration of SAF that has the potential to revolutionize the global aviation industry and keep our skies clean.

Flight Over the Black Sea: The Airline Industry of Ukraine

Flight Over the Black Sea: The Airline Industry of Ukraine

In 1992, Ukraine International started its operations with new Boeing 737-400 aircraft

Not only is Ukraine known to have a prolific airport infrastructure but the country is also well equipped in terms of airlines. With a plethora of passenger and charter airlines along with a longstanding aircraft manufacture industry, Ukraine boasts one of the most significant aviation sectors in Europe.

Together with the country’s airports, its airlines and airspace are regulated by the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine. 

Ukraine International Airlines

Established in 1992, the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) stood out from the rest of ex-Soviet bloc nations for starting its operations with new Boeing 737-400 aircraft as opposed to fleets inherited from Russia. Taking base in Boryspil International airport, the Ukrainian government established UIA with the goal of having regular flights to Western Europe and effectively the airline’s first voyage linked Kyiv to London. Soon after, UIA added Paris and Frankfurt to its list of scheduled destinations and by 1993 the airline was regularly touching down in Berlin, Milan, Amsterdam, Vienna, Munich and Brussels.

Financial expansion came in 1996, when both Austrian Airlines and Swissair bought stakes in the company along with the European Bank for Construction and Development in 2000. This gave the airline opportunity to expand its fleet and improve staff training. 

In 2013, due to a lack of competition by airlines in the Ukrainian aviation marketplace, UIA increased its fleet and staff to compensate for the lack of available scheduled flights to the Ukrainian public. Unfortunately, the expanded airline was challenged by the Crimean conflict in 2014 and it was forced to reduce ticket prices in the hope to encourage more fliers and maintain profits. 

Today the airline maintains an impressive fleet of 29 aircraft that include 12 B737-800s and four B737-900(ER)s and covers over 70 destinations that include New Delhi, Budapest, Athens, and Dubai. Aside from passenger scheduled operations, the airline also provides charter and seasonal flights along with having an active cargo branch. 

Jonika Airlines

A younger Ukrainian airline, Jonika was established in 2018 and takes base in Kyiv-Zhuliany International airport. With a fleet of two 737 aircraft, it undergoes regular flights to destinations in Greece, Turkey Montenegro and Bulgaria along with providing seasonal charter services to other destinations.

Motor Sich Airlines

Launched in 1984, Motor Sich Airlines is wholly owned by the Ukrainian aircraft engine manufacturer Motor Sich

One of the oldest Ukrainian airlines, it was established in 1984, and is unique since it is wholly owned by the Ukrainian aircraft engine manufacturer Motor Sich. Based in Zaporizhzhia International airport, it undertakes solely domestic flights (with the exception of Minks) in Ukraine between the cities of Kyiv, Odesa, Lviv. Aside from passenger flights the airline also provides cargo services and domestic VIP charter flights. 

Motor Sich use various aircraft fitted with their engines for operations including Yakovlev Yak-40, Antonov AN-140-100 aircraft along with a Mil Mi-2 helicopter. 

Bee Airlines 

Bees Airline is a Ukrainian charter and low-cost airline established in 2019

The newest airline to emerge in Ukraine, Bees airline was founded in 2019 taking base in Kyiv-Zhuliany International airport and commenced operations officially in March of 2021. 

With a fleet of 3 Boeing 737-800 aircraft obtained from UIA, Bee’s 15 destinations include Tbilisi, Burgas, Heraklion along with Odesa.

 

New Flag Carrier

Still in the developmental stage, the Ukrainian government is keen to start a new public national flag carrier. 

“It is my dream to create a modern state-owned airline at the level of Turkish Airlines or Singapore Airlines. The state is ready to allocate money for this in order to build a national state air carrier,” according to Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky (see ch-aviation article)

Still, with no name or operational prospects, the new carrier is set to fly domestically produced Antonov Design Bureau regional jets, which contrasts with the Boeing-dominated fleet of UIA. 

Flying Further 

While there are many private Ukrainian airlines, and the country presents an active aviation sector, it still stands that UIA is the dominant contender in terms of fleet capacity and global span. There remains plenty of room for new airlines to emerge that can provide more international outreach that could foster more economic development in the Eastern European region and solidify Ukraine as a serious aviation contender in Europe. Perhaps this potential will be harnessed in the near future by Ukraine’s new flag carrier. 

Eastern European Skies: The Dynamic Airport Infrastructure of Ukraine

Eastern European Skies: The Dynamic Airport Infrastructure of Ukraine

Boryspil International Airport

Ukrainian aviation took off after the country earned its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 with steady growth in international traffic and travellers to the country. While Ukraine’s aviation facilities span hundreds of airports, airstrips and heliports, currently Ukraine counts 17 airports that are considered to be of international standard. The State Aviation Administration of Ukraine is the body responsible for managing the country’s aviation safety and security measures.

Boryspil International Airport

As one of the highest-ranked airports in Europe, Boryspil International serves as Ukraine’s main international airport. Located 29km away from the country’s capital Kyiv, the airport was commissioned by the Ukrainian administration in 1959 when at the time Boryspil had only a military airfield and no civilian aviation facilities. The location was chosen due to its existing road connectivity with the capital along with a paved runway that served Russian military aircraft.

Soon after the first civilian and cargo flights took off from the new airport connecting Kyiv to the Russian cities of Moscow and Leningrad. Later in 1960, the airport added flights to Budapest, Vienna and Sofia. As traffic continued to increase, by 1965 the airport had received a new terminal and upgraded landing assistance facilities.

Following extensive renovations during the 80s and 90s, the airport today welcomes aircraft from over 60 national and foreign airlines that span over 120 destinations worldwide and the airport regularly facilitates aircraft from airlines such as Bulgaria Air, Qatar Airways, airBaltic and flydubai.

Boryspil International is equipped to handle 18 million passengers per year with an infrastructure that counts two passenger terminals, one VIP lounge and cargo facilities. Its two runways measure 4,000m and 3,500m and are able to handle exigent aircraft. The airport is also fitted with high-tech landing assistance equipment that streamlines take-off and landing procedures in poor weather conditions.

Igor Sikorsky Kyiv International Airport (Zhuliany)

Igor Sikorsky Kyiv International Airport (Zhuliany)

Found 7km Southwest of the capital in the Zhuliany district, Kyiv International serves as the capital’s second airport. It was first established in 1923 as a military base before seeing civilian use. During the Soviet occupation of Ukraine, the airport acted as the main headquarters of Aeroflot and was the country’s sole passenger airport until the 1960s when it was gradually replaced by the larger and better equipped Boryspil International.

After Ukrainian independence in 1991, the airport saw increased international traffic, starting off with destinations in Russia and soon adding other European cities to its flight schedules.

As it sits surrounded by residential neighbourhoods along with major railways and highways, the potential for expansion is limited. In addition, the airport’s runway is incapable of handling heavyweight aircraft and with a short length of 1,800m challenges pilots when landing large aircraft such as the Boeing 737-800.

Today the airport welcomes such airlines as Alitalia, Buta Airways and Belavia. Furthermore, the local Ukrainian Wizz Air is based in Kyiv International airport and serves over 30 destinations that include Athens, Vienna, London-Luton and Berlin-Schönefeld.

Odesa International Airport

Operational since 1924, the Odesa International Airport is located 7km outside of Ukraine’s third-largest city. Interestingly this airport began its life as far back as 1908, as the private airfield of entrepreneur Arthur Antara, an aviation enthusiast that enjoyed assembling aircraft, training and conducting test flights.

It was not before 1961, that Odesa International Airport received its first proper 2,800m runway along with a passenger terminal. At the time it was one of three Ukrainian airports that were capable of handling the Tupolev TU-104 aircraft.

Today the airport has a single passenger terminal that saw its most recent expansion in 2017; covering 29,000 square meters and equipped with four jet bridges able to accommodate 767 size aircraft, Odesa International has the capacity to welcome 3 million passengers per year. `
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International airlines that frequent the airport include flydubai, LOT Polish Airlines, Ryanair and Turkish Airlines along with the local flier – Wizz Air.

Kharkiv International Airport

Kharkiv International Airport

Serving the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv International was off to a rough start after Ukrainian independence due to a severe lack of facilities, particularly passport and customs control that made the airport unfit for civilian use.

As a result, in 1995, the airport underwent a complete reconstruction along with improving the existing runway and by 2001 the airport had received its international certification.

Further expansions came in 2010, in preparation to host the 2012 UEFA Championship, Kharakiv International received a new terminal spanning an area of 20,000 square meters and able to serve 650 passengers per hour. It was fitted with the first installation of jet bridges in a Ukrainian airport whilst the old terminal was revamped into a VIP lounge.

To name but a few of its destinations, the airport sees direct flights from Tallinn, Istanbul, Berlin and Baku along with flights to Dubai, Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh.

A Fine Example

Although Ukraine is one of the poorest countries in Europe, the country boasts a prolific number of diverse airports along with having several high-quality international terminals. It must be noted unfortunately, that he country lost its second-busiest airport – Simeferopol International as it is located in the Crimean region that was annexed by Russian forces in 2014. That said, even without one of its essential sky portals, the country continues to maintain its reputation for air and spacecraft manufacture and along with its prolific aviation sector, Ukraine could well be on its way to being Eastern Europe’s aviation superpower.

Flying Solo: The Rise of Drones In Africa

Flying Solo: The Rise of Drones In Africa

A partnership agreement with UK-based Advanced Air mobility (AAM) company Skyports will grant Fahari Aviation, a subsidiary of Kenya Airways, access to drones by the end of 2021

Ever since getting the green light for civilian use, drones have skyrocketed in popularity finding applications in a myriad of industries from farming to photography, sewer maintenance and aviation. In 2017 alone, 3 million drones were sold globally. 

In Africa, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are increasing in popularity throughout the continent, seeing effective use in the fields of agriculture and healthcare; where farmers are using UAVs to monitor crop yields and accurately forecast food shortages and prevent them, along with watering fields and spraying pesticides. Meanwhile, drones have also proven effective in saving lives by rapidly delivering blood to patients in remote locations along with spraying larvicide to inhibit malaria diffusion. 

With the ambition to become a leader of drone application in Africa, Kenya Airways has signed a partnership agreement with UK-based Advanced Air mobility (AAM) company Skyports that will grant Fahari Aviation, a subsidiary of Kenya Airways, access to drones by the end of 2021. The agreement comes months after the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority legalized the use of commercial UAVs to the public. By expanding its income streams, Kenya Airways also hopes to avoid the significant losses it shared with the global aviation industry experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“This partnership with Skyports will support our diversification plans in drone technology application. This will give us access to available equipment and established operations that will lay the foundation for the Kenyan and regional drone market through our drone and emerging aviation technology subsidiary, Fahari Aviation,” 

Alan Kilavuka – Kenya Airways CEO

As an enterprise, Skyports specializes in drone-assisted services along with providing airports with high-tech landing infrastructure. The company splits its UAV applications into three genres, medical, logistic and e-commerce. Its integration of UAV tech in Kenya will take inspiration from previous experience with the UK National Health Service, where since February of 2021, drones have been used effectively to transport Covid-19 test samples and medical materials between facilities in the UK. To date, Skyports claims that their UAV services have transported over 900 medical samples over a distance of 14.000kms whilst cutting 12/000 hours in transport time.  In addition, delivery drones were also implemented by the Royal Mail for deliveries in Scotland, proving particularly effective for providing island deliveries in poor weather conditions.   

To achieve their goal of giving Africa the highest quality drone-assisted services, Fahari Aviation is to provide their clients with five main UAV applications whilst also training drone pilots and staff in their safe management and operation. The subsidiary also plans to lease UAVs and handle its maintenance requirements. At present, the company is proposing the use of drones for surveillance and aerial mapping, industrial inspections, emergency and rescue services along with agriculture and transportation. Whilst testing the use of drones for delivery and maintenance inspection purposes has already commenced in Kenya, in the near future proposals for medical and logistical applications are being considered. Furthermore, the two companies hope to extend their drone services to the Kenyan public.

“Our partnership with Kenya Airways can unlock significant opportunities for drone deliveries and inspections in Kenya, creating time and cost savings for our customers and contribute to the growth of the country’s tech and aviation ecosystem,” 

Duncan Walker  – Skyports CEO

Astral Aerial team showcasing one of their drones

Fahari Aviation is not alone in the Kenyan drone race, with Astral Aerial Solutions, an affiliate of Astral Aviation, already in the market with commercial drone applications in the region. Currently, the company has been using the Flyox cargo drone which has the capacity to transport up to 1,850kg within a range of 1,200km, along with having a 26 hour standby time which proves useful for surveillance operations. The company also operates the Wingcopter a smaller delivery drone that stretches eight hours of flight time with a maximum capacity of four kilograms. Other contenders to UAV operations in the region include Drone Africa Service, Zipline and ATLAN Space. 

As the world adapts to the use of drones gradually regulating their airspace presence alongside existing aircraft,  Africa is slowly catching up with some countries such as South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, and Botswana allowing public access to UAVs and their services. Meanwhile, other nations, particularly in the North African region are yet to authorize drone usage outside of military circles. In other cases, such as Liberia, there is no legal consideration with regard to UAVs. 

That said, civilian application of drones can prove to be extremely effective in safely navigating the harsh terrains throughout the continent – such as deserts and savannas, along with mountainous regions. Coupled with the fact that many locations suffer from poor infrastructure and limited accessibility, UAVs can overcome all of these inconveniences giving Africa a new beginning in its ongoing technological development and ease the humanitarian crises commonly experienced throughout the continent.

Island Shores to Sunny Skies: The Aviation Landscape of Seychelles

Island Shores to Sunny Skies: The Aviation Landscape of Seychelles

Seychelles archipelago is home to 115 islands

Found on the Eastern tip of the Somali Sea, the vibrant Seychelles archipelago is home to 115 islands. Whilst many of the island’s natives occupy themselves with such endeavours as fishing and farming, as well as cultivating coconuts and vanilla. Akin to the majority of tropical islands, the main economy of Seychelles is tourism. 

Aviation, is essential to island environments such as Seychelles, due to the fact that it provides efficient transport between remote and harsh ecosystems whilst avoiding the inconveniences of oceanic navigation. As a result, Seychelles has developed an intricate lattice of 15 airports and airstrips throughout the archipelago that are managed by the Seychelles Civil Aviation Agency. The country’s flag carrier airline – Air Seychelles, is the main provider of scheduled flights between the islands. 

Airports 

Seychelles International Airport 

Victoria, Seychelles International airport has been inaugurated in 1972

Found on Mahé island 11km south-east of the capital, Victoria, Seychelles International airport was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II in 1972. At this time the airport had the basic infrastructure it possesses today including the 2,987m runway, control tower meteorological station, and maintenance staff facilities. The airport relied on expatriate efforts for both management and maintenance services.

Due to increasing traffic and the popularity of Seychelles as a leisure destination, the airport underwent significant expansions from July 1980 adding a new terminal with a capacity to handle 800 passengers per hour along with parking bays for up to six aircraft. Further development came between 2005-06 when the airport’s terminal further extended along with equipping the airport to facilitate medium to larger aircraft along with six smaller aircraft. 

Today the airport serves as the base of Air Seychelles and welcomes numerous international airlines including Aeroflot, Air France, Emirates and Turkish Airlines. It is the country’s main airport and portal to the rest of the world. 

Praslin Island Airport

The Praslin Airport has been paved and extended to a length of 1,250m(photo Victor)

Serving the second largest island in the Seychelles Archipelago, Praslin Airport started its life also 1972 as a basic airstrip. By 1988, the Seychellois government realizing the importance of the island and undertook a project to improve the airport, adding a terminal building along with a control tower and fire fighting facilities. Furthermore, the airport’s runway was paved and extended to a length of 1,250m. 

To date, the airport is served solely by Air Seychelles with daily flights to Seychelles International Airport in Mahé. 

 

Airlines 

Air Seychelles 

Air Seychelles maintains a fleet of 7 aircraft including two A320-200Ns

In 1977 with the popularity of the islands on the rise as a holiday destination, the Seychellois government purchased a selection of light aircraft in the bid to initiate an airline. By 1983, officially coined Air Seychelles, the airline had a Douglas DC 10 vessel and commenced flights to Europe visiting such destinations as London and Frankfurt. Soon later the airline acquired its first Boeing aircraft namely two 707-320s. 

The airline continued to add more destinations to its schedules until 2012, when a turbulent period of losses led to cuts in international destinations and the elimination of all Europe-bound flights. With the airline on the verge of collapse, the Emirati Etihad Airways took interest in Air Seychelles purchasing 40% of the airline’s shares in a partnership agreement. The airline was revamped, adding an A330-200 and several flights to Abu Dhabi along with drawing up a two-year plan to increase profits. 

Today the airline maintains a fleet of 7 aircraft including two A320-200Ns and aside from following domestic routes, performs regular flights to such destinations as Mumbai, Port Louis, Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi. 

Whilst the deal with Etihad returned Air Seychelles to profitable status and saw a return to European flights, the partnership is coming to an end. The airline is set to purchase back the 40% stake from the Emirati’s along with reducing its workforce. Furthermore, Air Seychelles will once again remove flights to Europe as a means to survive against emerging competition from foreign airlines.   

Flying Further 

Whilst Seychelles has made significant progress in overcoming its geographical challenges and developing an aviation sector since the 1970s, the country continues to lack high-quality airports for its inhabitants away from Seychelles International and Praslin. Furthermore whilst Air Seychelles continues its prosperous performance, there are many opportunities for other airlines to emerge in the region, particularly in the light aircraft charter industry. We hope that the country’s aviation sector will continue to improve and that Seychelles will fully realize its touristic potential.