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Engine test passes 100pc SAF usage

Engine Test Run

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has partnered with engine manufacturer CFM International and fuel producer Neste to conduct a test using an aircraft engine running on 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Data analysis has now confirmed that 100 per cent SAF can be used safely. The test has generated new data that can be used to set further specifications for SAF. This test is a small, but significant step towards making the airline industry more sustainable.

The engine for the test (a CFM56-7B) was provided by CFM International, while Neste supplied the SAF, which is produced from used frying oil.

The test took place in KLM Engineering & Maintenance’s test cell at Schiphol-East, where test runs with aircraft engines take place. A test run is conducted after maintenance is completed to guarantee airworthiness. The first round of the test was powered using standard fuel and the second using 100 per cent SAF. Extensive inspections and checks were carried out on the engine during and after the test run.

Along with other data, the engine’s pressure and temperature were measured during the test. These values indicate how efficiently the engine handles the fuel and its effects on various components. By comparing the two test rounds, KLM can gain greater insight into the engine’s performance running on 100 per cent SAF. The test was completed successfully and represents a step closer to flying on 100 per cent SAF.

The SAF used for the test was HEFA-SPK, made from used cooking oil. The main advantage of SAF is that it emits less CO2 over its entire lifecycle than regular fuel. Over its lifecycle, the SAF purchased by KLM ensures a 75 per cent reduction at least. SAF’s potential could be far greater at around 85 per cent with today’s technology. This could grow to 100 per cent in the future.

SAF is currently approved for use in all aircraft, but only in blends of up to 50 per cent with conventional jet fuel. The use of 100 per cent SAF in aviation has not yet been approved and requires certain specifications, which can only be determined on the basis of extensive research and data.

SAF is not yet widely available. KLM is committed to scaling up the production and use of SAF to achieve greater sustainability in the future.

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