Japan Airlines conducts first flight with blend of two different types of SAF – Green Car Congress

Japan Airlines (JAL) has conducted the first flight with a mixture of two different types of SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) produced domestically in Japan. As a first step forward the commercialization of domestically-produced SAF around 2030, SAF produced at the demonstration plants has now passed the quality inspection and became available for use in actual flights.

As part of the “Development of Production Technologies for Biojet Fuels” of New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, a Japanese national research and development agency, JAL has conducted a flight—JL515 (From Tokyo (Haneda) to Sapporo (Shin-Chitose))—with 3,132 liters (9.1% mixing ratio) of SAF produced domestically in Japan added into existing jet fuel.

One SAF was manufactured by Mitsubishi Power, Ltd./Toyo Engineering Corporation/JERA Co., Inc.; the other by IHI Corporation. The former is created from wood chips and the latter from algae. The flight marked the first attempt to load 2 different types of SAF on the same flight.

In the Standard Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel (ASTM D7566), 7 types of SAF—corresponding to purification method of each synthetic fuel—are established as separates Annexes (earlier post). JAL has now loaded 5 of 7 of those types of SAF (Alphanumeric tag corresponds to SAF Annex):

  • January 2009: Asia’s first test flight using SAF made from camelina, a type of non-edible raw material (A2, Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (HEFA-SPK)

  • November 2017: Powered SAF in JAL flight from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Narita Airport (A5, Alcohol to Jet Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (ATJ-SPK) )

  • January 2019: Powered SAF in JAL flight from San Francisco International Airport to Haneda Airport (A2)

  • June 2019 onwards: Upon receipt of Airbus A350 aircrafts, SAF was powered in all 5 delivery flights from Airbus’ plant in Toulouse, France to Haneda Airport (A3, Hydroprocessed Fermented Sugars to Synthetic Isoparaffins (HFS-SIP)

  • March 2020: Succeeded in manufacturing of SAF using cotton from clothing for the first time in Japan (A5)

  • February 2021: Successfully operated the first flight in Japan loading SAF produced domestically in Japan (A5)

  • June 2021: Loaded 2 different types of SAF produced domestically in Japan at the same time (A1, Fischer-Tropsch Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (FT-SPK); and A7, Synthesized Paraffinic Kerosene From Hydrocarbon-Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HC-HEFA-SPK)). HC-HEFA-SPK was developed by IHI.

The JAL Group is aiming to switch 10% of the whole fuel amount to SAF. Specifically, it plans to load SAF on flights departing from North America in cooperation with Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., a US company in which it has invested. In addition, since most of the fuel used by the JAL Group is refueled in Japan, the establishment of a domestic production system is also an important issue; the company is conducting a feasibility study with domestic companies on manufacturing and selling SAF in
Japan from waste plastic.

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