‘Mile Fry Club’: Airbus A380 Makes History In France

Airbus just proved an A380 can fly using cooking oil as fuel.

Image Credit: Popular Mechanics

Airbus successfully completed two test flights at the end of March, in which an A380 proved it could fly using cooking oil as fuel.

Airbus’ A380 test aircraft MSN 1 flew from Blagnac Airport in Toulouse, France, and flew for about three hours, operating one Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

TotalEnergies provided 27 tonnes of unblended SAF for this flight. Airbus said in a media release the SAF (which was produced in Normandy, close to Le Havre, France) was made from Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA) and was primarily made up of cooking oil, as well as other waste fats.

Airbus had previously flown an A350 with this kind of fuel, but never an A380.

“This is the third Airbus aircraft type to fly on 100% SAF over the course of 12 months; the first was an Airbus A350 in March 2021 followed by an A319neo single-aisle aircraft in October 2021,” Airbus said.

CNN Travel reports that “Airbus then followed up with a second A380 flight, using the same cooking oil fuel, on March 29, flying from Toulouse to Nice. The second flight was to monitor SAF use during take-off and landing.”

This news had one outlet speculating “flying to Greece in the future could use cooking oil for fuel.”

Flying from Toulouse to Nice takes an hour and 10 minutes, according to Google Maps. So much further progress still needs to be made, presumably, before Airbus starts attempting long haul flights with cooking oil.

Airbus says that increasing the use of SAF will play a decisive role in achieving the industry’s ambition of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Some reports indicate that SAF could contribute between 53% and 71% of required carbon reductions, Airbus claims.

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