Committed to the global effort to reduce international aviation emissions, Singapore Airlines (SIA), in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), has started operating a series of 12 ‘green package’ flights over a three-month period on its non-stop San Francisco – Singapore route.
Featuring SIA’s latest-generation and most fuel-efficient aircraft – the Airbus A350-900 – the ‘green package’ flights are the first in the world to combine the use of biofuels, fuel-efficient aircraft and optimised flight operations. CAAS is facilitating the use of these optimised flight operations and Air Traffic Management (ATM) best practices which reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions for the flights.
The first of the 12 flights, SQ31, departed San Francisco at 11:21hrs (San Francisco Time) on 1st May 2017 and arrived in Singapore at 19:10 hrs (Singapore Time) on 2nd May with 206 passengers on board.
The initiative supports the efforts under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint (SSB) 2015 to develop Singapore as a Leading Green Economy, where businesses adopt more efficient and sustainable processes and measures to reduce their resource and environmental impact, and contribute towards a Sustainable Singapore. The flights will also raise awareness of sustainable biofuels for aviation and provide the industry with valuable insight on the economics, logistical requirements and performance of biofuels.
Over the three-month period, flight SQ31 will be powered by a combination of HEFA (Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids), a sustainable biofuel produced from used cooking oils, and conventional jet fuel. The biofuel, produced by AltAir Fuels, will be supplied and delivered to San Francisco by SkyNRG in collaboration with North American Fuel Corporation (NAFCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of China Aviation Oil (Singapore), and EPIC Fuels.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), sustainable biofuel is a promising technological solution which will reduce the airline industry’s carbon emissions. It has been certified safe for use in commercial aviation since 2011, and has been in use by airlines in other parts of the world.
In collaboration with CAAS and air navigation service providers along the flight route, these flights will also employ optimised flight operations, which will reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions. These optimised flight operations include User Preferred Routes (UPRs), Dynamic Airborne Reroute Procedure (DARP), 30/30 Reduced Oceanic Separation and Time-Based Arrivals Management.1
Other than the ongoing ‘green-package’ flights, SIA and CAAS have worked together in recent years on several other carbon emissions-reducing initiatives in international aviation. In January 2010, both organisations participated in the Asia and Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE2) programme with a demonstration flight from Los Angeles to Singapore via Tokyo which yielded fuel savings of 6%.
In May 2011, CAAS and SIA launched regular ASPIRE flights on the Los Angeles Singapore route. Over the years, routes to various destinations in the Southwest Pacific, including Auckland, Christchurch, Melbourne and Sydney, were incrementally added to the ASPIRE programme, the latest addition being SIA’s ‘Capital Express’ service between Singapore, Canberra and Wellington in September 2016. The series of 12 ‘green package’ flights will also adopt ATM best practices from the ASPIRE programme.
Singapore Airlines is also a member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), which was established in 2008 to accelerate the development and commercialisation of sustainable biofuels for aviation, derived from environmentally and socially-sustainable sources.
“Singapore Airlines’ fleet is already among the most modern and fuel-efficient in the world. We now want to push ourselves further and are embarking on this initiative to help promote the use of sustainable biofuel in an operationally and commerciallyviable manner. This is in line with our long-term commitment to further reduce carbon emissions while improving the efficiency of our operations. This initiative is especially memorable as our first biofuel flight departed from San Francisco on 1st May, when Singapore Airlines celebrated its 70th anniversary,” said SIA’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Goh Choon Phong.
“CAAS is pleased to support and participate in this initiative. This is part of CAAS’ ongoing effort to develop new initiatives to achieve the sustainable growth of aviation. Collaboration is key in this effort. CAAS is therefore committed to continuing our work with industry partners to advance and drive greater innovation on this front, ” said Director-General of CAAS, Mr Kevin Shum.