Planning for the Future: Helping a Historic SAF Flight in the Middle East to Soar
April 28, 2023
When Haidar Albrahim, an Early Career Professional with GE Aerospace in Dubai, started his current rotation with On Wing Support, little did he know he would get a first-class, front-row seat to the future.
In his role coordinating quick-turn maintenance and other service work with Emirates Airlines, the 27-year-old Saudi national helped plan GE Aerospace’s part in the airline’s first-in-the-Middle-East flight using an engine fueled with 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). He coordinated with Emirates on the date for the test flight and made sure the necessary engineers and tools were onsite for pre- and post-flight testing.
Emirates asked GE Aerospace, makers of the GE90 engine being used in the test, to conduct pre- and post-flight examinations of the engine. This included a detailed inspection of the hot section of the engine, Albrahim said, including the combustor, the high-pressure compressor and then the high-pressure turbine Stage 1 and Stage 2 blades, nozzles and shrouds.
“Pre-flight they wanted to look at the health of the engine, especially the hot section, to ensure there were no issues and that it was a good candidate,” Albrahim said. “Post-flight, we also focused on the hot section, which encounters the most thermal stress in any flight. Our technicians did not observe any deviations from normal and found that the engine looked the same as if it used typical kerosene jet fuel.”
SAF is expected to be an important contributor to reaching the global aviation industry’s 2050 net-zero goal by offering the potential to dramatically reduce fuel lifecycle carbon emissions up to 80%, compared to jet fuel produced from petroleum. SAF can be produced from oils, plants, algae, greases, fats, waste streams, alcohols, sugars, and captured CO2.
The flight results, Albrahim said, will not only contribute to global knowledge on SAF, but also “send a strong message” about the future of SAF in the Middle East, even with its challenging hot, harsh and dusty conditions.
“This first demonstration of 100% SAF in the region is evidence that there are no regional differences or limitations when it comes to the application of SAF,” he said.
Being involved with this flight has made Albrahim more optimistic about the future of more sustainable aviation. “This test, along with others being conducted around the world, is encouraging the aviation and aviation fuel sectors to multiply their efforts to reduce fuel emissions as part of their strategic goals.”
More personally, Albrahim – who graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor’s of Applied Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, was excited to have been part of the team that conducted the demonstration. “I felt tremendous pride in myself and the company I work for because this flight is helping shape the future.”
“Maybe I only participated in a small way as a planner, but still, this definitely touched me, knowing I was involved in this major milestone for the industry.”
Read more here about how GE Aerospace supports airlines across the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey region.