Our fuel efficient aircraft

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Take a closer look at the fuel-efficient aircraft and engines we use at Etihad Airways, including our eco-friendly GEnX powered Boeing 787 and Rolls-Royce Trent XWB Airbus A350 – some of the world’s most energy-efficient aircraft. The A350’s sixth-gen engine goes further on less fuel thanks to its 15% fuel consumption advantage over the original Trent engine.

The Boeing 787, the world’s first ‘Greenliner’, is the A350’s partner in sustainability, with its newer engine boasting a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to older generations.

Both planes have a range of over 15,000km, without stopping making them ideal for short and long hauls.

Learn more about sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), including how we’re working to develop and trial SAFs due to the key role they play in reducing carbon emissions for our planet.

Join us on our journey to low-carbon aviation.

Etihad’s fuel-efficient aircrafts

The latest addition to Etihad Airways’ fleet is a driving force when it comes to energy-efficient planes. Sustainable50, which had its inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi to Paris in March 2022, leads the way in our commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Our Airbus A350s are set to cover six global cities from our hub in Abu Dhabi, including:

  • New York
  • Chicago
  • London
  • Paris
  • Delhi

But what makes Etihad’s A350 aircraft so sustainable? 

Here are some of the key environmental benefits:
  • Lighter load – designed using advanced materials, the A350 is over 1kg lighter per seat compared to similar aircraft.
  • Fuel-efficient aircraft engines – each A350 airbus is powered by fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.  
  • Reduced emissions – When compared with the A330, our new fuel-efficient planes offer a 25% reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions.
  • Noise reduction – they are 50% quieter than any previous generation Airbus.
  • Fewer single-use plastics – with Bluetooth headset pairing available inside the Airbus A350, you can bring your own headphones on board to reduce single-use plastic and help us eliminate waste.
  • Considered cabin design – the A350 gets the balance of sustainability and guest experience right. Its cabin can carry more passengers than before, but guest experience is still front and centre.
  • Carefully sourced products – when it comes to making design and product choices, we use supply chain thinking, with sustainability of our partners of great importance.

The ultimate Etihad Airways experience

Alongside these sustainable benefits, our A350 aircraft still has all your favourite in-flight features for the ultimate Etihad Airways experience:
  • Enjoy expertly designed seats with an innovative recline system for added comfort.
  • Bluetooth pairing and Wi-Fi connectivity are available throughout the plane with handy integrated charging ports to keep your devices fully charged.
  • There’s even smart lighting onboard to reduce fatigue and jet lag, so you can arrive at your destination feeling rested and refreshed.

What is sustainable aviation fuel?

Sustainable aviation fuel – or SAF – is an alternative to the fossil fuels traditionally used by airlines. SAF can be produced from numerous sources, from recycled waste to industrial by-products, but what all SAFs have in common is that the carbon from which they are formed has much shorter lifecycles than that of fossil fuels.

SAF has a similar chemical build to conventional jet fuel, which is why it has earned the name “Synthetic Kerosene” (SK). This also means it can be used up to approved blend levels to power our engines without having to alter the current fuelling systems or procedures. We continue to work with manufacturers and fuel providers to increase the quantities of SAF that can be used with current engine technology, helping the industry move forward and adopt SAF in ever increasing volumes.

Why is sustainable aviation fuel better for the planet?

The global aviation industry uses approximately 278 billion litres of jet fuel annually[1], so switching to a more sustainable jet fuel alternative can have a hugely positive impact on our planet.

Here are some of the other key reasons we use sustainable aviation fuel in our aircrafts:

We use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in our aircrafts as it can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80% over its lifecycle, compared to conventional jet fuel[2]. As part of our sustainability commitment, we lead the way by testing using SAF. SAF does however present challenges. It’s currently much more expensive than using traditional jet fuel. And availability can be an issue – as a global carrier, Etihad needs to be able to access SAF across the globe, and in some places it is just not available. But with changes to aviation’s supply chain, and test flights in partnership with Boeing, we aim to improve the availability of SAF and help drive down its cost to make it commercially viable. 

What is sustainable aviation fuel made of?

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is typically blended with regular jet fuel due to limitations of current engine technology. We’re working with manufacturers on understanding how engines can use 100% SAF through experimental flights, leading the adoption of increasing blends of SAF in regular commercial flying.

SAF can be sourced from several sustainable feedstocks, including[4]:

  • Used cooking oil – from plant or animal fat that has been used for cooking.
  • Plant oils – for example, inedible lipid oil from jatropha seeds and camelina.
  • Non-food crops – like fast-growing algae and salt marsh grasses (halophytes).
  • Municipal waste (from homes and businesses) – such as packaging, paper, clothes, grass clippings, food scraps and textiles.
  • Forestry waste – including waste wood and excess agricultural residues.

Non-biological alternative fuels – created using by-products of certain manufacturing processes.So, how do we turn these waste products and plants into sustainable jet fuel for our aircraft? The goal is for the CO2 released into the atmosphere during one of our sustainable flights to be equal to the amount we use at the start of the process[5].

Type of sustainable aviation fuel Etihad use

We’re also part of the Abu Dhabi Hydrogen Alliance. Its aim is to establish Abu Dhabi as a trusted leader of green hydrogen, to help lower carbon emissions in both the UAE and wider world[6]. Etihad is currently working on using this green hydrogen – the electrolysis of water through solar energy – to produce synthetic kerosene (SK) for our SAFs. 

The future of sustainable flying with Etihad

We’re also part of the Abu Dhabi Hydrogen Alliance. Its aim is to establish Abu Dhabi as a trusted leader of green hydrogen, to help lower carbon emissions in both the UAE and wider world[6]. Etihad is currently working on using this green hydrogen – the electrolysis of water through solar energy – to produce synthetic kerosene (SK) for our SAFs. 

Our fleet

More A350s are set to join our fleet, not only to help drive our sustainability goals but also to enhance the guest experience. The aircraft’s advanced materials and Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines result offer unrivalled operational efficiency, with a 25% reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions compared to previous generations of aircraft.

Inside the A350 twin-aisle cabin, discover ambient lighting, temperature controls and the highest ceiling of any aircraft in the industry. 

Alongside the A350, and heading our Greenliner programme is the Boeing 787, a pioneer in sustainable flying. Its 25% reduction in fuel burn is in part thanks to its engine, but also the unique wing-design not commonly seen on commercial aircraft. These wings can flex, minimising turbulence by increasing aerial stability and resulting in less drag, increasing fuel efficiency.

The Boeing 787 offers incredible vistas from inside the cabin, with windows that are 30% bigger than on other aircraft, allowing for more natural light. Due to the electrochromic glass passengers can also adjust their window with 5 stages of colour, from dark to light.

We’ll also continue to roll out our sustainable flights programme through our testing and initiatives. Our newly launched economy flights provide an even more thoughtful experience taking advantage of our spacious fleet. But more importantly, using locally sourced, recycled materials to reduce single-use plastics onboard by up to 80%. All test flights are done in an operational environment, which means we can assess them and gather data as we hopefully head towards a full-scale commercial introduction.

Our fuel

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Etihad Airways are committed to reducing carbon emissions in the aviation industry, with a goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050[7]. The roll-out of SAF across commercial airlines and aircrafts plays a vital role in this long-term climate goal. Low carbon aviation fuel (LCAF) is another option, which produces greenhouse gasses with a lower life cycle. However, while SAF and LCAF are desirable and necessary, they are also expensive and difficult to procure.

Etihad Airways is leading this drive for sustainability as we continue to develop the use of sustainable aviation fuels.

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