Airbus’ most popular aircraft takes to the skies with 100% sustainable aviation fuel
An A321neo took off on March 9, 2023 from Airbus’ headquars in Toulouse, France with both of its engines powered by 100% unblended SAF. Since the end of February, the aircraft is being closely followed by a data-collecting aeroplane with the mission to gather information on the non-CO2 emissions and the creation of contrails. The A321neo’s flights are the latest demonstration in the VOLCAN project, the acronym of VOL avec Carburants Alternatifs Nouveaux, French for “Flight with new alternative fuels”. Airbus’ VOLCAN partners are the French aerospace companies Safran and Dassault Aviation, along with the ONERA aeronautics research laboratory and the French Ministry of Transport. The project is co-funded by CORAC, the French Council for Civil Aeronautical Research. An A321neo version powered by LEAP-1A engines from CFM International is being used for the latest tests, and provides yet another opportunity to evaluate the potential benefits of unblended SAF versus conventional aviation fuel. This A321neo is the first Airbus single-aisle aircraft and the latest Airbus aircraft overall – following the A350 and A330MRTT – to test 100% sustainable aviation fuel on both engines. To gather the important information from this flight, a ‘chase aircraft’, a highly modified Dassault jet from the German Aerospace Center, DLR is flown within 100 metres of the A321neo, using the testbed’s sensors to capture emissions data for detailed analysis.