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11 October, 2021 - 21:46 By Tony Quested

SATAVIA partners with Etihad and Boeing for world-first sustainable flight

Cambridge-based data analytics company SATAVIA is working with global aviation giants Etihad and Boeing to support EY20 Sustainable Flight, the world’s first commercially operated flight combining SATAVIA contrail prevention with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). 

On October 23, the Etihad-operated Boeing 787 Greenliner will fly passengers from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi, bringing together a range of cutting-edge green aviation innovations and technologies to reduce the flight’s overall climate impact by up to 72 per cent. 

In addition to a 38 per cent SAF blend and fuel-optimised climb and descent profiles, the EY20 Sustainable Flight will benefit from SATAVIA’s industry-leading contrail forecasting, enhancing standard flight planning for navigational contrail avoidance. 

Aircraft contrails cause surface warming by reflecting heat downwards toward the surface, causing up to 60 per cent of aviation’s climate impact - almost double the impact of direct engine emissions. 

Greener engines, fuels and airframes are currently in development on multi-year timescales, but recent progress in atmospheric modelling mean that contrail prevention can now be undertaken at the push of a button.

SATAVIA’s industry-leading platform, DECISIONX:NETZERO, productises the best available atmospheric and climate science to enable navigational contrail avoidance in day-to-day flight operations.

In a recent demonstration with a leading global airline and Dubai’s Aviation X Lab, SATAVIA demonstrated capacity to eliminate up to 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per flight. SATAVIA now aims to set the industry standard for high-impact contrail prevention solutions.

SATAVIA CEO, Dr Adam Durant said: “We’re delighted to partner with Etihad and Boeing on this incredible flight, augmenting standard flight planning to prevent contrails and reduce the overall climate impact. 

“The EY20 Sustainable Flight offers a vision of end-to-end, commercially sustainable green aviation – a vision that SATAVIA wholeheartedly supports.”

Operating since 2019, Etihad’s Greenliner Programme uses the airline’s Boeing 787 fleet as a test bed for sustainability improvements in partnership with organisations across the aviation industry, with innovations ranging from airspace management to SAF, flight deck tools, and noise management.

“The Sustainable Flight on October 23 will be a celebration of everything that has been achieved in the past two years,” said Mohammad Al Bulooki, chief operating officer for Etihad Aviation Group, “and a great flight for Etihad’s guests who will get to see what the future of commercial air travel looks like. 

“The fact that sustainability has stayed on the agenda during the pandemic is testament to just how important the topic is to Etihad – the sustainability challenges faced globally will still be around when COVID-19 is no longer an issue.”

Other EY20 innovations include General Electric foam washing for maximum engine efficiency, incentives for passengers travelling with lightweight luggage, single-engine taxying, electric-powered ground logistics, and sustainable on-board dining.

Post-flight, Etihad, General Electric and SATAVIA analytics will quantify achieved climate benefit – laying the groundwork for mainstream sustainable flight.

Dr Durant said: “Aviation is emerging from COVID with a renewed focus on sustainability - but cutting direct emissions alone won’t get us to net zero. Truly sustainable flight needs contrail prevention as well as greener propulsion, coupled with rigorous reporting of achieved benefit. 

“That’s why SATAVIA is actively engaging with stakeholders across the sector, working to realise our mission of making aviation smarter and greener. It’s only by working together that decarbonisation can be achieved!”

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