Animal fats, woody biomass, or other bio-based feedstocks…who imagined ingredients we use to cook or start a campfire could be used to fuel an airplane? And, this is not just any fuel, it is Sustainable Aviation Fuel or SAF, and SAN received its first delivery mid-October.
SAF is a “drop-in” fuel produced from the items listed above (as opposed to petroleum) and mixed with traditional jet fuel to significantly lower the carbon intensity of aircraft operations without reducing performance.
The advantage of “drop-in” fuel is that aircraft engines and fuel supply systems do not need to be retrofitted to use it. Many SAFs contain fewer aromatic components, which enables them to burn cleaner in aircraft engines. This means lower local emissions of harmful compounds around airports during take-off and landing.
The actual delivery of SAF was made to Signature Flight Services, an operator that services general aviation clients like private or charter operations. The Airport Authority’s Planning & Environmental Affairs Department helped Signature coordinate the SAF delivery with the San Diego Airline Fuel Consortium, which operates SAN’s fueling station.
Making SAF available at SAN has been a long effort in the making and a key strategy in the Airport Authority’s Carbon Neutrality Plan to reduce airport-wide emissions by 30 percent on a per-passenger basis by 2035. Recently, the Airport Authority partnered with UCSD to study how SAF could be delivered to the San Diego region and collaborated with the California Airports Council to successfully advocate for SAF production to be incentivized through the State of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. We plan on seeing more SAF flowing through SAN in the future.