UAE’s flag carrier Emirates has announced the completion of ground engine testing for one of its GE90 engines on a Boeing 777-300ER with 100% sustainable aviation fuel (Saf).

The trial was carried out to evaluate the GE90 engine’s capability to run on the specially blended 100% SAF, without any changes to aircraft systems, and to ensure that the performance of the engine is not impacted.

It was also aimed at ensuring that there was no special maintenance procedures required on the Boeing 777-300ER or GE90 engine to run.

The test was carried out on two engines, with one running on 100% SAF and the other on conventional jet fuel, to better analyse the fuel system´s behaviour and performance.

During the test at the Emirates Engineering Centre in Dubai, the aircraft first underwent a standard pre-inspection process, after which the stationary operating testing started by first operating the Honeywell 331-500 auxiliary power unit (APU) on 100% SAF.

The APU was loaded fully with SAF to start the engines, and the left engine was exercised through its full power range, using the same settings to be utilised for the experimental flight.

After the simulation was completed, the fuels were isolated in separate fuel tanks to maintain segregation of test fuels.

Completion of the ground test will provide a platform for the airline to carry out its first experimental test flight using 100% SAF in one engine, which is scheduled for take-off this week.

In a statement, Emirates said: “Emirates has long been a supporter of industry and government efforts to encourage the development of the SAF industry, and regularly participates in initiatives to contribute to SAF deployment.

“Its first flight powered by SAF blended with jet fuel was in 2017, operating from Chicago O’Hare airport on a Boeing 777.

“Emirates received its first A380 powered by SAF in December 2020, and uplifted 32 tonnes of SAF for its flights from Stockholm earlier that year, with the support of Swedavia’s Biofuel Incentive Programme. Flights from Oslo have also begun operating on SAF.”