A flight across the US using a 50/50 blend of sustainable and traditional jet fuel has been conducted by Etihad Airways as part of a test scheme with Boeing.

Flying from Seattle to Boeing’s manufacturing site in South Carolina, Etihad’s newest 787-10 Dreamliner used the maximum sustainable fuel blend permitted for commercial aviation.

The transcontinental flight also demonstrated a new way for pilots, air traffic controllers and airline operations centres to communicate simultaneously and optimise routeing.

Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator programme evaluated four projects to reduce emissions and noise.

All of the 787-10 test flights used a blend of traditional jet fuel and sustainable fuel produced from inedible agricultural wastes to minimise emissions, with the final flight operating at the maximum 50/50 commercial blend.

The two companies were among the founding partners that created the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium in 2010.

Based at Khalifa University near Abu Dhabi, the pilot project produces sustainable fuel from plants that grow in the desert, irrigated by coastal seawater.

Etihad used the initial batch of fuel from the pilot project in January 2019 on a passenger flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam.

The airline took delivery of its ‘green’ 787-10 in January using a fuel mix comprising 30% sustainable aviation fuel.

Etihad Aviation Group chief operating officer Mohammad Al Bulooki said: “Together with Boeing and the national airline’s sustainable aviation fuel partners World Energy and EPIC, Etihad used 50,000 gallons of a 50/50 blend of sustainable aviation fuel on the final flight of our ecoDemonstrator 787-10 flight tests.

“This is a monumental step forward for the sector to prove the viability of producing a 50/50 blend of sustainable aviation fuel [SAF] at a high volume, an important moment for the industry.”

Boeing Commercial Airplanes strategy vice president Sheila Remes added: “Sustainable aviation fuels are proven and work in airplanes flying today and those that will fly tomorrow, but there’s a very limited supply.

“World Energy is making commercial-scale volumes of sustainable fuel at competitive prices, leveraging government low-carbon incentives to accelerate production and use in an industry that relies on liquid fuels.”