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SAF summit underscores powerful potential of cleaner fuel
A recent summit attended by business aviation heavyweights built upon previous initiatives aimed at promoting SAF use, including the first-ever public demonstration in January 2019 at California's Van Nuys airport.

After a first-of-its-kind sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) summit, business aviation leaders have committed to redouble their focus on fostering the large-scale production and widespread adoption of SAF. The summit was the latest in a series of efforts by the industry to encourage greater production and use of SAF, a cleaner-burning fuel that can reduce net lifecycle carbon emissions 50 per cent or more compared to conventional jet fuel and would help the industry go further and faster in reducing business aviation's already low carbon footprint.

Specifically, the event focused on encouraging federal and state policymakers to consider legislative incentives to help foster SAF use and working with them to examine whether there are existing policies slowing the development of the SAF market; further developing market-based programmes, such as ‘book-and-claim’, which allows operators to purchase SAF, even where it is not available at the airport from which they are flying; and finding ways to further expand the infrastructure needed to meet SAF demand.

The summit gathered operators, legislators, regulators, fuel suppliers and others to determine how best and how quickly the production, supply, demand and use of SAF can be accelerated.

The sessions featured perspectives from government leaders, including Joel Szabat, Acting Undersecretary for Transportation Policy, US Department of Transportation; Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Chair, Subcommittee on Aviation, US House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; and Kevin Welsh, Executive Director, Office of Environment & Energy, FAA. The summit included several major announcements from leading business aviation companies for promoting SAF use.

The event was organised by the Business Aviation Coalition for Sustainable Fuel, which includes the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).

CAAFI executive director Steve Csonka says: “I believe the summit clearly highlighted two key messages. First, after succeeding with all the foundational work on an SAF strategy, the entire civil aviation industry is clearly ready and willing to expand use of SAF, but it is in short supply, due to some fundamental challenges typical of any developing market. Secondly, policymakers can assist by creating stable incentivising policies at both state and federal levels or by addressing policy bias, which currently impedes SAF expansion and favours renewable diesel. We look forward to continued engagement on the topic.”

EBAA secretary general, Athar Husain Khan adds: “The vital question for the future of the business aviation industry is: how can we facilitate the transition to a more sustainable society? This summit shows that, despite being hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis, business aviation is more committed than ever to reducing its environmental impact and tackling the urgent threat of climate change.”

NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen concludes: “This summit is about more than fuels; it's about the future and the way we think of sustainability in the years to come. Our industry has always had innovation and a pioneering spirit as its cornerstones. We've reaffirmed that visionary outlook with this forward-looking set of objectives.”

The summit built upon previous industry initiatives aimed at promoting SAF use, including the first-ever public demonstration in January 2019 at California's Van Nuys airport, which highlighted the fuels's viability, safety and ability to reduce aviation emissions. That demonstration was followed by similar events in Europe and the UK.

In January 2020, the SAF Coalition announced two new carbon reduction initiatives with the World Economic Forum that made SAF available for aircraft departing the event in Davos, Switzerland and initiated a book-and-claim programme.

The coalition recently released Fueling the Future, an educational and informational resource about the practicalities of SAF development, industry adoption and pending expansion of supply and use, primarily from the perspectives of the business aviation community.

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