From improvements at all stages of recycling processes to limiting the use of single-use plastics, sustainability has recently been an important issue. It’s also a hot topic in aviation. The industry’s intentions to tackle pollution in various ways are now coming to fruition thanks to the G280.

In January 2019, the Gulfstream G280 set a city-pair record, which is impressive in itself, especially for supporters of the G280 as it's the 64th city-pair record set by this marvellous machine. With the maximum range of 3,600 nautical miles and the capability to operate at Mach 0.85, it's no wonder the G280 so effortlessly smashes records. The aircraft can transport ten passengers and sleeping five, and it's able to reach 45,000 ft of altitude. Among its records is the fastest non-stop flight between London and New York – a flight where fast speeds can be very important to flyers.

Now we have another reason to get excited about this aircraft - the fact it did it using sustainable alternative jet fuel (SAJF).

Record-setting time of 4 hours 49 minutes

This was no gimmick, either. The flight was from Savannah, Georgia to Van Nuys, California and it took 4 hours 49 minutes with an average speed of Mach 0.85, its max capacity. It is a great achievement considering that the pilot faced average headwinds of no less than 76 knots.

The Gulfstream G280
The flight time of 4 hours 49 minutes was enough to take the top spot with an average speed of Mach 0.85, its max capacity. Picture Source: Gulfstream.

So, what exactly is SAJF, and why is it so important? Well, society as a whole is generally making a combined effort to reduce pollution, use our resources responsibly while minimizing the environmental damage. Different industries are embracing such efforts. As cars are now more and more often operating on electricity instead of burnable fossil fuels, SAJF has a similar purpose for planes.

According to the National Academic Press, it aims to lower the net life-cycle carbon emissions of commercial aviation. This happens by replacing a part of the fuel with a number of drop-in replacements. In some cases it's quite a large proportion so the reduction on fuel consumption is significant – often well over half of the fuel itself.

The NAP report emphasizes the importance of companies embracing and progressing this budding technology: ‘A wide array of organizations has been working for the last decade to support the development of SAJF and to create a framework by which such fuels can enter the marketplace. The SAJF community in the United States now includes a broad coalition federal agencies, state and local constituents, operators of aircraft powered by gas turbines (commercial, military, business, and general aviation), engine and aircraft manufacturers, some members of the petroleum industry, academia, nongovernmental organizations, and various public–private partnership efforts.’

Some sceptics undermine the safety of SAJF but there’s nothing to worry about. The Federal Aviation Administration clearly stated that SAJF is safe to use, comparing it to Jet-A.

Green roots dating back to 2011

Experts predict that in the coming years we will see an increase in the calls for SAJF and other alternatives which may drastic change the industry as we know it today. The key is implementing such changes whilst making minimal negative changes to flyers' experience and Gulfstream have been considering this for many years now.

The Gulfstream G280 Interior
Interior of the Gulfstream G280. Picture Source: Gulfstream

Those familiar with Gulfstream may know that back in 2011, the Gulfstream G450 already became the first to fly across the Atlantic on SAJF. ‘Since then, we’ve taken ever-greater steps in supporting sustainability, including securing a dedicated supply of SAJF for our corporate, demonstration and flight-test fleet,’ says Gulfstream President Mark Burns. ‘Our company aircraft have already flown approximately 700,000 nautical miles on SAJF, saving more than 750 metric tons of carbon dioxide. ‘SAJF is not only better for the environment, but using this fuel to set city-pair records highlights its performance capabilities. We’re now elevating our sustainability commitment by bringing SAJF to our facility in Long Beach.’

750 tons of CO2 saved

Gulfstream has racked up 700,000 nautical miles using SAJF and its combinations of jet fuel which means 750 metric tons of carbon dioxide are saved.

The Gulfstream G280 Interior
Interior of the Gulfstream G280. Picture Source: Gulfstream

Gulfstream has both a history and a future in sustainable flying. There are already plans to incorporate SAJF right to customer-facing aircraft as early as this year. Those flying from Long Beach Airport in California will be part of the eco-friendly future of Gulfstream. Savannah has been using a 70%/30% mix of SAFJ and jet-A for nearly three years already.

Proving that SAJF is a safe and viable option and setting new sustainability standards, Gulfstream clearly sets an example. This may be just one of the records for the G280 but it definitely means a giant step toward a sustainable future.

Pictures courtesy of Gulfstream.