As part of its sustainable fuels programme, Airbus has tested its giant A380 airliner on 100% biofuel for the first time. This is the third and largest Airbus aircraft to use fuel composed primarily of vegetable oil in experiments. The company expects to certify the technology for commercial operation before the end of the decade.
The airliner is an Airbus ZEROe demonstrator designed for flight experiments using various sustainable fuels. It is known that the company also wants to test hydrogen engines with it. In late February, it was reported that the hydrogen version would begin testing in 2026.
For the first flight, the airliner was filled with 27 tons of “Sustainable Aviation Fuel” (SAF), which is mainly made from vegetable oil and partly from other fats. Fuel powered the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine during a three-hour flight on March 28. Another test flight was conducted on March 29.
This is not the first time 100% SAF has been tested on Airbus aircraft. Tests were previously carried out on the Airbus A350 and Airbus A319neo narrow-body aircraft. The company expects to launch the first commercial version of a fully SAF-flying aircraft by 2035.
In assessing the potential of SAF, Airbus is guided by the expert opinion provided in the Waypoint 2050 report, according to which the use of SAF is the only way to decarbonize the industry.
According to Airbus itself, all of the company’s aircraft are already approved for flights with a 50/50 mixture of SAF and kerosene, but in future the manufacturer wants to completely do without fossil fuels.