(CNN) – It’s huge, it’s huge, and it’s probably a lot more durable. The Airbus A380, the beauty of the sky, has completed a trial flight powered by cooking oil.
The test aircraft completed a three-hour flight from Toulouse’s Blagnac Airport – Airbus’ French headquarters – on March 25. It was powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel, or SAF – made up mainly of used cooking oil and waste fats – and operated on a single Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine.
Airbus then followed another A380 flight, using the same cooking oil fuel, on March 29, from Toulouse to Nice. The second flight was to monitor the use of SAF during take-off and landing.
The fuel used was supplied by Total Energy, a company based in the Normandy region of France. It is made from hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA), which are free of both aromatics and sulfur.
Airbus has been testing the use of SAF-powered flights since last year, with the A350 being tested in March 2021, and the A319neo single-island aircraft flying on cooking oil in October. The company hopes to have its aircraft certified to fly on SAF by the end of the decade. Currently, Airbus aircraft can be powered by 50% SAF mixed with conventional kerosene.
“Increasing the use of SAF is the key to achieving the industry’s ambitions for zero-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” Airbus said in a statement. The company claims that aircraft flying over SAF could clean up between 53% and 71% of the carbon reduction required to accomplish that goal.
Airbus plans to launch the world’s first zero-emission aircraft by 2035.
SAF, which claims carbon neutrality because CO2 is absorbed when its organic components are grown, is already used in limited quantities by some airlines. But higher prices mean that widespread adoption is not expected any time soon.
The fortunes of the world’s largest passenger airplane, the A380, have been declining in recent years, and many airlines have sought time to use them, partly because they are less fuel efficient than more modern long-haul airplanes. Airbus delivered the final A380 to Dubai Airlines Emirates in late 2021.
Main image: Courtesy Airbus