At the end of this month, Gulfstream will put the finishing touches on the new fuel farm at its Savannah, Georgia headquarters, with its centerpiece consisting of a 30,000-gallon dedicated sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) tank.
The use of renewable fuel certainly isn’t new for the airframer, which was among SAF’s earliest adopters. One of Gulfstream’s G450s was the first aircraft to make a transatlantic flight on SAF in 2011.
It followed that up the following year as the first manufacturer to fly its entire in-production fleet to a major airshow on SAF. That’s when its G150, G280, G450, G550, and G650 flew to NBAA’s annual convention in Orlando, Florida, powered by a 50/50 blend of jet-A and camelina-based Honeywell UOP Green Jet Fuel.
Since 2016, the General Dynamics subsidiary has received regular deliveries of SAF at its Savannah complex and has largely used it to operate its demonstration fleet. The company also stocks SAF at its Long Beach, California service facility.
Last year, Gulfstream became the first manufacturer to receive the National Aeronautic Association’s (NAA) “Sustainable Wings” certification, which recognizes records that are set using SAF. It earned the honor for its record-setting G500 round trip from its Savannah headquarters to San Francisco on July 24.
Overall, in its more than a decade of SAF usage, Gulfstream has flown more than 1.5 million nautical miles and has purchased more than 1.7 million gallons of SAF, according to Rexford Ofosu, the company’s project manager for corporate sustainability.
In an interview just ahead of EBACE 2022, Ofosu told AIN that the company, as part of its commitment to supporting new fuel technologies, is working with low-carbon-fuel producer Alder Fuels on a Gulfstream demonstration flight using 100 percent SAF that is expected to take place in the third quarter. He described the eventual adoption of 100 percent, or neat, SAF — which can provide lifecycle carbon emissions savings of up to 80 percent compared to conventional fossil-based fuel — as a game-changer, particularly with regard to fleet emissions.
While most operators and FBOs that receive SAF simply add the fully-miscible fuel directly into their general fuel storage, Gulfstream’s newly-installed fuel tank in Savannah — which will soon be joined by another 30,000-gallon vessel — will hold only SAF; blends at first and then at some point pure SAF. It will also provide a dedicated refueling truck to serve customers who specify that they want to fill up on sustainable fuel.
The aircraft manufacturer’s interest in the use and promotion of SAF ties into its support of both the industry’s goals of decarbonization, as well as parent company General Dynamics’ own operational ambitions. General Dynamics has called for a 40-percent reduction in CO2 emissions companywide by 2034, relative to its 2019 levels.
Gulfstream is taking those goals seriously and, in response, has developed a sustainability advisory team that encompasses its top leadership. That includes company president Mark Burns and senior vice presidents, along with subject matter experts to layout its short-term and long-term plans.
The OEM has already been certified under ISO 14001 — an international standard that sets out the requirements for an environmental management system. As an industry leader, it was also the first business jet maker to sign the World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow 2030 ambition statement, which calls for SAF production to accelerate to equal 10 percent of the global jet fuel supply by 2030.
But SAF is just one part of the company’s strategy, which also involves the transition of its ground vehicles and ground power units to electric power. Ofosu noted that a large percentage of transport and industrial equipment at the company’s sprawling Savannah campus are now electric, with more such vehicles awaiting delivery.
In terms of infrastructure, Gulfstream has more than 2.2 million square feet of green buildings in its network. A new service center opening in Fort Worth, Texas, in July will run on 100 percent renewable electricity. Meanwhile, its new Mesa, Arizona facility due to open next year is being built to environmental standards and will also supply SAF to its customers.
With all this experience, the manufacturer said it has become one of the leading voices for environmental awareness in the industry and an advisor to its customers on their own sustainability efforts.
Topping off all of these environmental achievements, the manufacturer has applied for NBAA’s Sustainable Flight Department Accreditation program under all four categories: flight, ground support, operations, and infrastructure. It is in the process of submitting its documentation after applying in March as part of the inaugural group of participants.