Airbus has flown an A380 with one of its four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines running on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), produced from used cooking oil and waste fats by France’s Total Energies.
The March 25 flight followed earlier 100% SAF tests on the A350 and A319neo.
A380 test aircraft MSN1 conducted the three-hour test flight from Blagnac Airport in Toulouse and used 27 metric tons of unblended SAF produced by Total in Normandy. A second 100% SAF test flight, from Toulouse to Nice Airport, is planned for March 29.
All tests of 100% SAF conducted by Airbus so far have used HEFA (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) fuel, the first SAF feedstock-to-fuel pathway to reach commercial production scale. The A350 flight in March 2021 used 100% HEFA SAF from Finnish fuel producer Neste in one Trent XWB engine.
Total previously supplied 57 metric tons of French-produced HEFA fuel to Airbus for flight tests of 100% SAF in one CFM International Leap-1A engine on an A319neo in October 2021. The fuel was also used in the flight of a Safran Makila 2-powered Airbus Helicopters’ H225 in November 2021 and will power an Safran Arrano-powered H160 on a 100% SAF test flight this year.
The A350 test flight was the latest milestone for engine maker Rolls, which is working to make its Trent civil engine family and business-jet powerplants compatible with 100% SAF by 2023 to support efforts by airframers like Airbus and Boeing to certify their aircraft to use 100% SAF by 2030.
In October 2021, Rolls Flew a Trent 1000―its engine for the Boeing 787―on 100% SAF on its 747-200 flying testbed, using HEFA fuel supplied by U.S. producer World Energy. Rolls has identified three key requirements for increasing SAF use to 100% from the maximum 50% blend now allowed: modified fuel quantity measurement systems, nitrile seal compatibility and appropriate viscosity at low temperatures.