By Gary Thomas
United Airlines has joined the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), a consortium promoting the development and commercialization of biofuels for the aviation industry. This move shows the commitment of United Airlines towards sustainability and the environment.
Together, SAFUG members account for roughly 32% of demand for commercial aviation fuel. As a member of SAFUG, United Airlines has inked a pledge to promote the development of drop-in biofuels that realize significant sustainability aspects, team up with major entities to develop biofuel certification standards, and take steps for the commercialization of aviation biofuels.
In November 2011, United Airlines operated the first US commercial flight run by advanced biofuels, subsequent to test and demonstration flights in the years, 2009 and 2010, respectively. The company also inked letters of intent to procure over 50 million gallons of biofuels.
Through its Eco-Skies program, United Airlines implements sustainability practices on the ground, in the air, at its facilities, with its business partners and throughout communities. The airline made investments in advanced fuel-efficient aircraft and equipment, resulting in a 32% increase in fuel efficiency. It is further advancing its fleet with orders for over 270 new aircrafts, which will provide a considerable enhancement in fuel efficiency.
Over 300 aircrafts in United Airlines’ mainline operations have winglets, which reduce noise and emissions by 5%. Roughly 26% of the company’s fleet of ground support equipment, or over 3,600 ground support equipment vehicles, are alternatively fueled or electric. In the past five years, the company recycled over 20 million lbs of cans, plastic and paper items from scrap generated at its facilities and in its flights. The company deployed Eco-Teams comprising cross-divisional representatives at every hub and key maintenance facility.