GE Aviation has recently completed successful testing of its Passport long-range business aviation engine using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), the lower carbon alternative jet fuel.
GE Aviation's Passport engine can operate on approved SAF, and for the first time recent testing shows the capability of the engine to run on 100 per cent SAF.
Currently, SAF approved for use is a blend of petroleum-based Jet A or Jet A-1 fuel and a SAF component with a maximum blend limit of 50 per cent. ASTM International, an organisation that develops technical standards, has not yet qualified 100 per cent SAF. One of GE's fuel experts chairs an international task force to develop standardised industry specifications supporting adoption of 100 per cent drop in SAF, which does not require blending with conventional jet fuel.
“As our testing shows, the Passport engine, like all GE engines, can operate on approved sustainable aviation fuel today and in the future. Our customers can be confident that the Passport engine can help meet their sustainability goals to reduce CO2 emissions in flight, thanks to its more fuel-efficient technologies compared to previous generation business jet engines, and its ability to operate on lower-carbon fuels,” says president of the Passport engine programme Melvyn Heard.
Ground testing was conducted with one engine over several days in March at GE's Peebles test operations in southern Ohio. The purpose was to assess the performance and operability of the engine technology with 100 per cent SAF compared to conventional Jet A.
The type of SAF used in the testing, HEFA-SPK (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene), is the most widely available SAF today and can be made from cooking oil and other waste fats, oils and greases. Preliminary test results of the Passport engine are favourable, with the engine performing similarly to when it runs on petroleum-based jet fuel.
GE Aviation has been actively involved in assessing and qualifying SAF since 2007 and works closely with producers, regulators and operators to help ensure it can be widely adopted for use in aviation.
This is the latest in a series of 100 per cent SAF tests by GE and CFM International, a 50-50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines. Previously CFM powered the first passenger flight using 100 per cent SAF in one of the two LEAP-1B engines of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 in December 2021, operated by United. The Boeing ecoDemonstrator has also tested 100 per cent SAF with CFM LEAP-1B engines in 2021, and the VOLCAN project in France includes a series of engine ground tests and flight tests with the CFM LEAP-1A engine.
GE engines powered the industry's first 100 per cent SAF commercial airliner flight in 2018 as part of the Boeing ecoDemonstrator programme, which included a Boeing 777F operated by FedEx powered by GE90 engines.
GE's Passport engine, which entered service in 2018 with the Bombardier 7500, has three per cent lower fuel consumption compared to other engines currently operating in the 18,000-pound thrust class, and 17 per cent lower fuel consumption compared to the CF34-3 engine. Blisk fan blades, a high efficiency compression system, rich-burn combustor, proprietary turbine system, and high efficiency mixer help enable the Passport engine's improved fuel efficiency.