Sept. 23, 2020
The business aviation industry is unified in its efforts to encourage greater production and use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), and the recent, first-ever sustainability summit highlighted the commitment of industry leaders to foster production and widespread production of SAF.
“Commitment by the industry is strong,” Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), sad during a recent NBAA News Hour webinar. “The message from the summit was positive, and the commitment from manufacturers is firm. The whole summit made me proud that our industry is trying to lead this effort. There is no doubt but that we have to be on this journey.”
Bunce noted that new technologies are providing efficiencies and opportunities that aviation manufacturers wouldn’t have dreamed of years ago. “It’s such an exciting time, and we are just scratching the surface,” he said.
The GAMA leader indicated that in order for SAF to really grow, it will take commitment and support from government at all levels. And rather than just taxing the industry to reduce carbon emissions, Bunce encouraged the use of incentives and market-based programs such as “book-and-claim,” which allows operators to purchase SAF, even where it is not available at the airport from which they are flying.
Tim Obitts, president and CEO of the National Air Transportation Association, noted that fuel producers and suppliers “are passionate” about this effort. “Not only is SAF safe fuel, but it is better fuel,” he said. Obitts reminded webinar attendees that although business aviation produces only about 0.4% of carbon emissions, “sustainability is critical for all of us.”
NBAA Board Member Shelly Lesikar deZevallos, who moderated the operators’ panel at the SAF summit, said many are utilizing all options available to them to reduce emissions, not just SAF. “So many people want to be a part of this, to make the world a better place,” she said. “Everybody is on board.” The current challenge, she added, is the availability of SAF.
The key summit takeaway for Kurt Edwards, director general of the International Business Aviation Council, was the theme of working together. “The entire industry got together to talk about SAF, which is a signal that we are committed,” said Edwards. “But we agreed that we need more policy support to incentivize production of this fuel.” He also noted that government support of “book-and-claim” will be a key to jump-starting SAF.
Overall, a summit takeaway was to work with federal and state policymakers to encourage legislative initiatives to help foster SAF use and to make sure no existing policies are slowing the development of the SAF market.
Stewart D’Leon, NBAA’s director of technical operations, moderated the webinar, and reminded attendees about the numerous SAF materials available, including a recently released educational resource – Fueling the Future – focusing on the practicalities of SAF development, industry adoption and pending expansion of supply and use, primarily from the perspectives of the business aviation community.