Flying high with aviation biofuel – Continuous SAF supply arrives at SFO and LTN airports, RSB recognized by ICAO for CORSIA

December 13, 2020 |

Lots of news arrived recently in sustainable aviation fuel, but here are two stories you won’t want to miss. First, Signature Flight Support, Neste and NetJets celebrate the official launch of Sustainable Aviation Fuel at SFO and LTN airports which is now available for purchase. Second, RSB has officially been recognized by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for the certification of CORSIA-eligible Sustainable Aviation Fuels with its new RSB CORSIA Standard.

Celebrating the official launch of SAF at SFO and LTN airports

Let’s start with the celebration going on at two airports this holiday season, reminiscent of Santa saving the day when all flights were cancelled due to that unexpected snowstorm that just came out of nowhere.

Signature Flight Support, through its company-wide Signature Renew program, and Neste are making low emission, renewable fuel a reality for business aviation, starting with the first two locations of Signature’s worldwide network. “The world’s leading Fixed-Base Operator (FBO) has pumped the initial ceremonial gallon of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) at San Francisco Int’l Airport (SFO) and London Luton Airport (LTN), marking the start of a global initiative to provide a permanently available supply of SAF to private aircraft.”

“This new era of SAF availability is driven by supportive regulations, voluntary commitments and growing customer demand. By having a consistent blended SAF supply available on airport, Signature Renew is providing a safe, affordable, and dependable low-emission option via Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel at SFO. This investment is the first program of its kind, allowing customers such as NetJets to help meet their own sustainability goals by taking advantage of more than a 25% reduction in direct net lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from this blended fuel. With a full commitment to fuel all private and business aircraft with blended SAF at SFO by Q1 2021, Signature SFO, Neste and the San Francisco Int’l Airport stand apart for their meaningful environmental leadership.”

Neste expects to have the capacity to produce some 1.5 million tonnes (515 million gallons) of SAF annually by 2023. Neste’s SAF is made from sustainably sourced, renewable waste and residue materials – such as used cooking oil for example. It is a drop in fuel that offers an immediate way to reduce the direct greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, requiring no new investments, modifications to aircraft or fuel distribution systems, or changes to procedures. When used in neat form, Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% on a life cycle basis compared to fossil jet fuel.

NetJets, the world’s largest private jet company, was the inaugural recipient for the first uplift of SAF in San Francisco. The initial load consisted of over 1,000 gallons pumped into a Bombardier Challenger 350. As the primary launch customer, NetJets has committed to purchase up to 3m gallons of SAF through Signature Renew for all flights out of SFO and its Columbus Int’l Airport (CMH) home base. Similarly, NetJets was the inaugural customer for Signature Renew’s Jet A product at London-Luton Airport in the United Kingdom, marking the start of continuously available SAF at the major European gateway for private aircraft.

Signature Renew is an initiative by Signature Flight Support to obtain net-zero global emissions by 2050. Embracing sustainable aviation fuels as a core pathway towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Signature Renew also encompasses electrified ground service equipment, LEED certified new construction, and increasing reliance on solar energy to power FBO locations.

Reactions from the stakeholders

The wait for SAF is over. We’re filling aircraft right now – thousands of gallons a day, every day – at SFO and LTN to meet the growing market demand,” expressed Tony Lefebvre, Chief Operating Officer for Signature. “SAF is the cornerstone of aviation’s answer to environmental responsibility. Creating an affordable alternative to traditional Jet A is vital to ensuring we’re able to help our customers reduce their carbon footprint. We’re proud to be able to deliver this capability to all private aviation customers at SFO and LTN and look forward to growing our capacity at additional locations and launching new sustainability programs next year.”

“We’re giving operators what they’ve been asking for – an easy, simple way to travel more sustainably,” says Chris Cooper, Vice President, Renewable Aviation North America, Neste. “This pioneering collaboration is really driven by two things, the demand for private and business air travel is growing and the people onboard these aircraft want their carbon footprint to go down. Neste, Signature and NetJets, as industry leaders, decided to work together to connect the dots from fuel production, to supply and distribution and to aircraft operations to make sustainable business and private air travel a reality. This is just a first step, and I look forward to working with these great partners to get more SAF to more airports and in more aircraft.”

“Sustainability has been foremost on the mind of our clients and of NetJets, as we recently announced our expanded Global Sustainability Program,” explained Brad Ferrell, NetJets Executive Vice President, Administrative Services. “Signature and Neste have provided the solution of SAF in the market, and NetJets’ purchasing commitment helps ensure SAF’s continued availability. We are proud to join our partners in taking the lead in commercializing renewable fuel sources and adoption.”

RSB officially recognized by ICAO for CORSIA

Let’s take a look at the second interesting SAF news story where RSB was recognized by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for the certification of CORSIA-eligible Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) with its new RSB CORSIA Standard.

“SAF producers and airlines are now able demonstrate compliance with CORSIA requirements and RSB’s best-in-class sustainability, widely recognized by NGOs and other groups as the most robust, credible and practical approach for sustainability in the bio-based and circular economy,” according to their press release.

The RSB CORSIA Standard goes above and beyond CORSIA requirements to ensure that SAF achieves at least 50% GHG reductions on its core lifecycle analysis, and a minimum 10% when including CORSIA’s Induced Land Use Change values (ILUC). In addition, RSB-certified SAF enables further claims around zero deforestation, environmental protection, food security and human rights, as indicated in our comprehensive RSB Principles & Criteria which define best practice for sustainability along the supply chain.

“This recognition cements RSB as a long-term trusted partner for the aviation industry. RSB is supported by aviation industry leaders who participate in our multi-stakeholder roundtable, developing robust sustainability approaches for the industry and collaborating with pioneers from industry, NGOs and government. These members include Airbus, Boeing, Air France, British Airways, KLM, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and many others.”

“This industry commitment is supported by global recognition of RSB’s most robust approach to sustainability and its multi-stakeholder community.”

The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation’s (ICSA) vision for a “zero climate impact” international aviation pathway towards 2050 endorses RSB as the “best-in-class sustainability certification standard for advanced aviation fuels”. In its Waypoint 2050 report on balancing aviation growth with tackling the climate emergency the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) identify joining RSB as one of the simplest early actions that can be taken to help accelerate an energy transition. The airline members of the Sustainable Air Fuel User Group (SAFUG), representing a third of global commercial aviation, have committed to developing and using alternative aviation fuels that are consistent with RSB’s robust sustainability requirements.

Ready for Certification

RSB certificate holders already include SAF producers and traders like Gevo, Nuseed, SkyNRG, World Energy and others, who are well positioned to transition to an RSB CORSIA certificate. Also committed to RSB certification are Velocys, LanzaTech and Lanzajet. Additionally, international airlines, including KLM, are committed to sourcing RSB-certified SAF.

Also supportive of RSB certification is Neste, with Sami Jauhiainen, Vice President Business Development, Renewable Aviation congratulating RSB, “Sustainability is at the heart of business at Neste and we are committed to supporting the aviation industry in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions with the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels. We cordially congratulate RSB for receiving the recognition for its CORSIA standard and we look forward to continuing the close collaboration.”

Reacting to the news of RSB’s recognition by ICAO, RSB Executive Director, Rolf Hogan, had this to say, “Today is an exciting day for the aviation industry as a clear pathway is now available for leaders to demonstrate that their commitment to sustainability goes above and beyond the legal requirements of CORSIA to also include a full range of social and environmental impacts as well. We look forward to working with these pioneers to implement this new RSB CORSIA Standard to help transform the industry – and the world!”

This sentiment was echoed by Pedro Piris-Cabezas, Director of Sustainable International Transport and Lead Senior Economist at the Environmental Defense Fund who said, “ICAO Council’s approval of RSB as an eligible Sustainability Certification Scheme is both an outstanding achievement for RSB and a major milestone for ICAO CORSIA, which completes CORSIA’s SAF framework. RSB CORSIA Standard also represents a paradigm shift, moving from RSB’s original focus on sustainable biofuel volumes to a new focus on emissions reductions from the use of SAF for carbon markets.”

Click here to download a slide deck summarising RSB’s CORSIA Standard approach, and here for more information about CORSIA.

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