EBACE 2019: Working on the sustain gang – Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuels Conference


EBACE 2019 actually started at TAG Farnborough Airport on Saturday with an inspiring conference focused on Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuels.

TAG Farnborough Airport was a fitting location for the event. It the world’s first carbon-neutral business aviation airport. The airport has cut noise, spent millions on becoming more energy efficient and not sent any waste to a landfill in three years (we checked behind the hangars and there was none there). Farnborough is also the closest place to Geneva with affordable hotel rooms still available for this week.

Speakers included , president Bombardier Aviation, Athar Hussein Khan, Secretary General of EBAA, Brandon O’Reilly, CEO, Farnborough Airport, Ed Bolen, president NBAA, reflecting how important the issue is. Whether you are interested in how the fuel is produced or not, environmental issues have the potential to be the biggest barrier to the growth of business aviation worldwide.

“When I meet the EU Council of Ministers the conversation always ends up being about the environment,” said Eamonn Brennan, Director General of Eurocontrol.

The conference was supported by all the major associations and manufacturers who are all working to reduce carbon emissions, “It has been and will continue to be a long journey,” said Coleal. “But the industry is working together to make it happen.”

Sustainable fuel is now readily available at six airports across the globe. It can cost as much as three times as much as standard jet fuel does now, although customers with long-term contracts can save significantly more.  The price is falling sharply, 10 years ago it cost 8.5x more. Because you drop-in or blend sustainable fuels with traditional Jet-A fuel, at the moment you are only pay more for 20% of the total cost of fuel.

“Aviation has solved lots of problems over more than 100 years, it solved the problem of gravity, of speed and range,” said Bolen. “It can solve this issue.”

Bombardier, Cirrus, Dassault, Embraer, Gulfstream, Piaggio and Textron are all flying aircraft into EBACE powered by sustainable jet fuel and oil companies are keen to make it more available.  “It is coming, fuel is being produced at scale and we are ready to supply,” said Tom Parsons, biojet commercial development manager at Air BP. Guy Sawyer, director at World Fuel agreed: “The intent to supply is there and we are keen to get it there.”

Eurocontrol’s Brennan also highlighted how Europe’s antiquated and stretched air traffic control system contributes to environmental issues. “The system is so outdated and everyday we are forced to do things that we are not proud of doing,” he said. Brennan also highlighted how there are very few new runways being built and that air travel will not be able to keep growing forever. He also highlighted how strikes add to environmental issues. “France seems to engage in recreational strikes,” he added.

In 2009 the business aviation industry committed to three things: carbon neutral growth by 2020; improving fuel efficiency by 2% a year between 2010 and 2020 and; reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 50% by 2050 compared to 2005. A rise in sustainable aviation fuel is critical to this.

The one good thing about the post-2008 downturn is that business aviation is ahead of these targets – both because of less utilization and less deliveries.

Brennan also showed data demonstrating how business aviation flights have fallen sharply in 2019. Eurocontrol considers business aviation to be a bellwether for other aviation. Something to ponder as you check in to your hotel room.

Brennan also praised everyone for attending on a Saturday. “This would not work in Brussels.”