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1st Airbus A380 takes off on flight powered by used cooking oil

March 30, 2022
3 min read
A380 prototype flies through the air.
1st Airbus A380 takes off on flight powered by used cooking oil
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An old Airbus A380 has a green new mission.

The first A380 ever produced took off last week on a flight powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF.

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A380 prototype. (Photo by A. Doumenjou/Master Films/Airbus)

SAF is a type of biofuel that relies heavily on organic materials. The aviation industry is banking heavily on this type of fuel, hoping it can lessen the industry's reliance on traditional fossil fuels and allow for fewer carbon emissions.

For the A380's flight, which departed Blagnac Airport (TLS) in Toulouse, France, 27 metric tons of unblended SAF were provided by Total Energies. The SAF provided primarily consisted of used cooking oil and other waste fats, according to Airbus, and was free of aromatics and sulfur. This makes SAF a cleaner-burning fuel, which is why it's a key part of the aviation industry's longer-term ambitions to reduce carbon emissions.

For this flight, one of the A380's four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines was powered entirely by SAF.

The A380 is Airbus' latest foray into 100% SAF. Two other Airbus aircraft have undergone similar 100% SAF testing: an A319neo and an A350.

(Image courtesy of Airbus)

All Airbus aircraft are currently certified to fly with a 50-50 blend of SAF and traditional kerosene fuel. Airbus hopes to certify 100% SAF for its line of aircraft by the end of the decade.

The A380 prototype has a much greener mission ahead of it. It will be modified into Airbus' ZEROe demonstrator, which will see an additional engine installed that will be powered by hydrogen. The program aims to test zero-emission propulsion.

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More: Are sustainable aviation fuels the future for commercial air travel?

Across the pond, Boeing has also invested in SAF, purchasing 2 million gallons of the organic fuel last month to power its commercial aircraft operations in Washington state and South Carolina. Initially, this fuel will be a 30-70 blend of SAF, but Boeing hopes to ramp up the share of SAF in the blend to 50% — and ultimately 100%. Like Airbus, Boeing also hopes to certify its fleet for 100% SAF operations by 2030.

Late last year, United Airlines operated a special 737 MAX 8 flight from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) with one engine powered by 100% SAF — one of the most ambitious tests of the fuel yet by an individual airline.

Featured image by A380 prototype. (Photo by A. Doumenjou/Master Films via Airbus)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023