Latin America’s GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA has joined the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), which unites airlines and technology providers in a joint drive to accelerate the development of new, sustainable aviation fuels for commercial use.
Initially, the group is working on two preliminary sustainability research projects, one of which involves a comprehensive investigation into Jatropha curcas as a sustainable fuel source, including its life cycle, CO2 emissions, and the potential social or economic impact on growers in developing countries. The second project is taking an in-depth look at algae and the associated fuel production processes to ensure they are in line with strict sustainability guidelines. Both Jatropha curcas and algae have the potential to become viable biomass aviation fuel sources. The group plans additional studies on other possible fuel sources in the future.
The initiative is a groundbreaking step for GOL. In addition to actively working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the company is now also investing in reducing its future fuel costs. “This is a major opportunity for GOL to join a select group of aviation companies actively involved in controlling their own future, particularly around fuel and the entire fuel production process, including origin, sustainability, and environmental impact,” said GOL’s technical vice president, Fernando Rockert de Magalhaes.
In joining the group, GOL adopts the premise that any sustainable biofuel must have an equal or superior performance to that of kerosene but with reduced CO2 emissions. Additionally, the group stipulates that new biofuels can only be produced from renewable sources that minimize the impact on biodiversity and do not compete with food production or the production of drinking water. SAFUG also requires that the development of new crops for biofuel production should bring social and economic benefits to the communities involved.
Among the affiliates of the SAFUG program and a supporter of the initiative is Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), which manufactures and provides equipment for GOL’s standardized fleet of Boeing 737-700 and 800 NGs. The company will provide technical support for the development of the new fuels. “Our top priority is to carry out and conduct research into sustainable fuel sources. This includes research into plants, as well as their cultivation, harvesting, and economic impact, all of which can help us achieve our goal,” affirmed Billy Glover, BCA’s managing director for environmental strategy.
Other global airline partners supporting sustainable fuels are Air France, Air New Zealand, ANA (All Nippon Airways), Cargolux, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines, KLM, SAS, and Virgin Atlantic Airways.