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Amidst the UAE’s Year of Sustainability, the announcement of the “Air-CRAFT” initiative took center stage at the 3rd ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) in Dubai. In this groundbreaking development, eight founding entities revealed their commitment to establishing a UAE-based research consortium. The primary focus of the consortium lies in the development, production, and scalable implementation of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) technologies.

Introducing Air-CRAFT, also known as the UAE Centre for Renewable and Advanced Fuel Technologies for Aviation, a groundbreaking industry poised to unite commodities throughout the worth chain. This includes industrial policymakers, aviation regulators, fuel producers, academia, researchers, aircraft and powerplant manufacturers, and airline operators. While headquartered in the UAE, the consortium is open to collaboration and welcomes participation from relevant international entities as it advances. This transformative industry was unveiled on the sidelines of CAAF/3 today, ahead of COP28.

This collaborative effort aligns with the principles digested in the UAE’s National SAF Roadmap and the more overall objective of achieving net-zero emissions in the commercial flying industry by 2050. During CAAF/3, senior ambassadors from the eight consortium commodities officially inked a strategic collusion contract, marking the commencement of the Air-CRAFT initiative.

Potential research avenues within Air-CRAFT encompass a spectrum of topics, ranging from environmental impact assessments to feedstock and process optimization, as well as techno-economic assessments. Additionally, Air-CRAFT is committed to establishing meaningful connections with other academic and research institutions, both within the UAE and on an international scale.

Air-CRAFT has garnered support from the U.S. government, fostering a connection to the intergovernmental US-UAE ‘Partnership to Accelerate Transition to Clean Energy’ (PACE) agreement. In a collaborative effort, the consortium’s industrial and institutional associates are poised to contribute needed demand, expertise, and cutting-edge technology to drive analysis endeavors aimed at advancing the exhibit of alternative energies for the flying sector. The initiative extends an open invitation to entities from the UAE and around the globe to actively participate in the consortium. Notably, Air-CRAFT is presently engaged in progressive conferences with key and strategic global performers, with official announcements slated for the near future.

Hanan Balalaa, Senior Vice President, of New Energies, ADNOC said that,” In the imperative journey towards achieving net-zero emissions, there is a pressing need to expedite progress, particularly in decarbonizing pivotal sectors like aviation. Effectively addressing emissions necessitates robust collaboration and innovation. ADNOC is at the forefront of this effort, actively partnering with our customers to facilitate their transition to new energy paradigms. The initiation of Air-CRAFT significantly contributes to this overarching objective, and we are eager to collaborate with our partners to unlock and implement sustainable aviation fuel technologies that can expedite the decarbonization of the sector.”

Brian Moran, Vice President, Global Sustainability Policy and Partnership at Boeing said,” The pivotal role of scaling Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) cannot be overstated in meeting the aviation industry’s ambitious net-zero affirmation by the mid-century mark. The establishment of a robust local SAF economy hinges on collaborative efforts across the entire value chain. We take pride in being instrumental in catalyzing and now actively engaging with this esteemed consortium through Air-CRAFT. Together, we aim to ignite and propel SAF innovation not only within the UAE but also on a broader international scale.”

Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Divisional Senior VP for International Affairs, Emirates Airline said, “ Emirates is steadfast in its support for initiatives that actively contribute to the widespread adoption of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Having played a pivotal role in shaping the UAE’s National SAF Roadmap and power-to-liquids fuel roadmaps, we firmly believe that the UAE stands uniquely positioned to assume a leadership role in this domain, given its robust policies, advanced technology, and infrastructure capabilities. Recognizing Air-CRAFT as a formidable platform, we view it as a crucial step toward translating the National SAF Roadmap into tangible reality. Emirates takes pride in being one of the inaugural entities associated with this pioneering initiative.”

Saif Humaid Ai Falasi, Group CEO at Enoc, said,” We take great pride in partnering with key industry leaders to inaugurate Air-CRAFT, a groundbreaking initiative that underscores our unwavering commitment to the advancement of sustainable aviation fuels. Through concerted efforts in collaborative research and innovation, our objective is to drive the aviation industry toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future. This aligns seamlessly with the UAE’s visionary commitment and steadfast pursuit of sustainability and environmental stewardship.”

Mohammad Abdelqader Ei Ramahi, Chief Green Hydrogen officer for Masdar, Said “ As the UAE’s proponent for clean energy, Masdar is thrilled to endorse this initiative aimed at expediting innovation and widespread adoption of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs). Recognizing the substantial potential of sustainable fuels in decarbonizing challenging sectors, Masdar is eager to engage in collaborative efforts with Air-CRAFT members. Together, we aim to advance research and scale operations, aligning with the objectives outlined in the National SAF Roadmap. Additionally, Masdar remains committed to propelling our green hydrogen business, a pivotal element in the broader retail presentation of SAFs and a key component of the UAE Energy Strategy 2050.”

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