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GE Aviation completes testing of Passport engine using 100% SAF

The Passport turbofan (Photo: GE Aviation)

GE Aviation announced May 23 that it has recently completed successful testing of its Passport long-range business-aviation engine using 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), a lower-carbon alternative jet fuel.

The Passport engine can operate on approved SAF today, and the recent testing shows the capability of the engine to run on 100 percent SAF. It was the first time the Passport engine was tested with 100 percent SAF.

Currently, SAF approved for use is a blend with petroleum-based Jet A or Jet A-1 fuel with a maximum blend limit of 50 percent. ASTM International, an organization that develops technical standards, has not yet qualified 100 percent SAF. One of GE’s fuel experts chairs an international task force to develop standardized industry specifications supporting adoption of 100 percent 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,” said Melvyn Heard, president of the Passport engine program for GE Aviation. “Our customers can be confident that the Passport engine can help meet their sustainability goals to reduce CO2 emissions in flight, thanks to the Passport’s more fuel-efficient technologies compared to previous-generation business jet engines and ability to operate on lower-carbon fuels.”

Ground testing was conducted with one engine over several days in March at GE Aviation’s Peebles Test Operations in southern Ohio. The purpose of the test was to assess the performance and operability of the engine technology with 100 percent SAF compared to conventional Jet A.

The type of SAF used in the testing, HEFA-SPK*, 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 favorable, 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 SAF can be widely adopted for use in aviation. SAF can be made from plant-based material, fats, oils and greases, alcohols, waste streams, captured CO2, and other alternative feedstocks. The use of alternative feedstocks and processes reduces lifecycle CO2 emissions during production, processing, and distribution compared to fossil-based fuels.

This is the latest in a series of 100 percent SAF tests by GE and CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines:

  • The VOLCAN project in France includes a series of engine ground tests and flight tests with the CFM LEAP-1A engine

GE’s Passport engine, which entered service in 2018, has 3 percent lower fuel consumption compared to other engines currently operating in the 18,000-pound thrust class and 17 percent 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.

*HEFA-SPK stands for: Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene



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