United Airlines Flies First Aircraft Using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel

United Airlines made history this month, operating the first passenger flight to use 100 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The flight carrying over 100 passengers departed from Chicago O’Hare International Airport on December 1st and landed at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. World Energy, North America’s only commercial biofuel producer, supplied the airline with the non-petroleum based fuel.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office has set a goal to have biofuel technology meet 100 percent of aviation fuel demand by 2050. Airlines are currently only permitted to use a maximum of 50 perfect SAF. On this demonstration flight, however, the aircraft used 500 gallons of SAF in one engine and the same amount of conventional jet fuel in the other engine. The objective was to prove there are no operational differences between the two types of fuel.

This flight marks a turning point in the industry’s focus on combating climate change and decarbonizing the airline industry.

According to United CEO Scott Kirby, the SAF flight is “not only a significant milestone for efforts to decarbonize our industry, but when combined with the surge in commitments to produce and purchase alternative fuels, we're demonstrating the scalable and impactful way companies can join together and play a role in addressing the biggest challenge of our lifetimes."

Read on for United’s 100 percent green commitment, including many ways United plans to make sustainability the new standard in flight.