The Sustainable Skies Act would create a US$1.50-$2/gal. blender’s tax credit for SAFs that achieve a 50 per cent or greater reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, compared to conventional petroleum-based jet fuels.
The tax credit would help boost demand for SAFs and stimulate necessary investment in production infrastructure, which today provides for less than one per cent of aviation’s global fuel requirement. Already a growing number of general and commercial aviation operators are committing to use SAFs at a greater scale, while the European Union is expected to launch its own policy initiative aimed at mandating a minimum level of usage.
In a recent op-ed for Flight Global, Geoff Hunt, Pratt & Whitney’s Senior Vice President set out the importance of SAFs and how measures like the blender’s tax can help the industry to reach 100 per cent adoption. “The answer to more sustainable aviation is not asking people to travel less. The answer is in employing smarter, more environmentally friendly technologies to help people and cargo take flight,” said Hunt. “Our industry has proven its ability to meet any challenge with practical and pragmatic solutions, and we can, and must, do it again.”
Fuel consumption and emissions have already been reduced
Advancements in gas turbine engines have already reduced fuel consumption and emissions, so the near-term flying fleet is performing better. For example, Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan technology, which entered service in 2016, delivers 16-20 per cent better fuel efficiency and corresponding CO2 emissions reductions. However, bringing future hyper-efficient technology to the market and into airline fleets will take time.
Hunt added: “We know how to get there; those of us in industry, and our partners in government, need to get serious about a viable path for SAF development, production and distribution. The latest-generation engine technology today can fly on 100 per cent SAFs under test conditions, though modifications to engine components may be required. This is not a pacing event for the industry.”
Earlier this month, a rescue helicopter has flown on SAF for the first time, achieving a new milestone in international aviation.