Celebrate United Airlines’ First Passenger Flight Using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Bioenergy Technologies Office


December 1, 2021

Celebrate United Airlines’ First Passenger Flight Using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel


Sustainable Aviation Fuels have a smaller carbon footprint than traditional jet fuel and are a major [key] for lowering GHG emissions in the transportation sector. Photo courtesy of iStock.com

The first United Airlines passenger flight to fly using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will depart today from Chicago O’Hare International Airport at 1 p.m. ET and will arrive at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport at 4 p.m. ET. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) research helped to develop the biofuel technology that will help this flight and future flights take a monumental step in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions within the aviation industry.

SAF development is a priority for DOE’s BETO, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Together, these agencies have developed a comprehensive strategy for scaling up new technologies to produce SAFs on a commercial scale through the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, with the ultimate goal of supplying sufficient SAF to meet 100% of aviation fuel demand by 2050. As part of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, several private sector aviation companies committed to take action to significantly reduce emissions from airplanes.  

The U.S. continues to lead in biofuel production, a nascent industry that has created 68,000 jobs, produced 17 billion gallons of fuel, and saved 544 million metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Expanding domestic SAF production can help sustain the benefits of the U.S. biofuel industry and forge new economic benefits, while also creating and securing new skilled employment opportunities across the country.