First Anniversary of the 2050 ICAO Vision for Sustainable Aviation Fuels


It was one year ago, on 13 October 2017, when the second ICAO Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels (CAAF/2) endorsed the 2050 ICAO Vision for Sustainable Aviation Fuels. This historic agreement was reached by 29 ICAO Member States and 11 Observer Organizations in Mexico City, Mexico.

The ICAO Vision encourages States to take action at national and international levels to further develop and deploy sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). It calls for a significant proportion of aviation fuels to be substituted with SAF by 2050, based on the assumption of a progressive increased use of SAF.

In the year since this agreement was reached, the SAF industry has been tremendously active. The ASTM, an international standards setting organization, approved a new conversion process for SAF production; numerous historic flights have taken off; and States and industry partners from around the world have come forward with plans to increase the development and deployment of SAF. See the timeline of recent SAF activities below, and visit the ICAO Global Framework for Aviation Alternative Fuels (GFAAF) for more information.

Advancements have also been made within the context of ICAO’s technical assistance activities. ICAO, through the ICAO-European Union Assistance Project, has completed SAF feasibility studies in the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago. Additional feasibility studies in Kenya and Burkina Faso are ongoing.

Additionally, through the ICAO-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) assistance project which was funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), ICAO developed the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Guide, a guidance document on the implementation of SAF. This document is aimed at assisting Small Island Developing States (SIDS), but is freely available for any ICAO Member State to analyze the potential for developing a SAF supply chain in their State.

As agreed during CAAF/2, ICAO will organize regular workshops and seminars to continuously assess progress on SAF development and deployment and to coordinate with States and other stakeholders. Considering the achievements of the SAF industry since CAAF/2 so far, these events will provide the perfect opportunities to prepare for the third ICAO Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3). CAAF/3 will be convened no later than 2025 and will aim to update the 2050 ICAO Vision to include a quantified proportion of aviation fuel to be substituted with SAF by 2050 – providing a landmark opportunity for ICAO Member States to agree on the future of SAF.

Highlights from the year since CAAF/2

October 2017 – the CAAF/2 endorsed the 2050 ICAO Vision for Sustainable Aviation Fuels

November 2017 – Hainan Airlines conducted China’s first cross-ocean alternative fueled flight

December 2017 – Air France established the Engagement for Green Growth, aimed at promoting the development and implementation of a SAF industry in France

January 2018 – AltAir’s aviation fuels received sustainability certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Bio-materials (RSB)

February 2018 – IATA announced their aim for 1 billion passengers to fly on sustainable fueled flights by 2025

March 2018 – The ICAO Council endorsed the Declaration of the CAAF/2, including the 2050 ICAO Vision for Sustainable Aviation Fuels

April 2018 – ASTM approved the use of ethanol-based SAF

May 2018: 

  • Växjö Småland Airport became the fourth airport to distribute alternative fuels on a regular basis, with KLM’s agreement to fuel all of their flights arriving or departing from Växjö Småland Airport with SAF
  • Thirteen airlines partnered with the Port of Seattle to replace 10 percent of Seattle-Tacoma airport’s jet fuel with locally produced, SAF within 10 years

June 2018 – South Africa established the “Waste to Wing” project to develop an aviation fuel industry from agricultural wastes

July 2018:

  • The ICAO Council adopted the First Edition of Annex 16, Volume IV – Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA)
  • Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) pledged to use SAF on all domestic flights by 2030 and partnered with Swedish oil refiner Preem

August 2018 – SpiceJet Ltd. operated India’s first flight using SAF

September 2018 – United Airlines operated the longest transatlantic SAF flight to date and pledged to halve GHG emissions by 2050

October 2018:

  • Virgin Atlantic operated the first flight using LanzaTech’s alcohol-to-jet fuel
  • The Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment announced that from 2020, all aviation fuel sold in Norway must contain at least 0.5 per cent advanced biofuel derived from waste or residues