Last week saw another important milestone of the road to more sustainable flight, with another means of producing sustainable alternative fuel receiving formal approval.

Before this week, there were four approved ‘pathways’ for producing alternative fuel, including a method of converting sugar, fats and oils, biomass and municipal waste into jet fuel. This number has now been raised to five, with the US Federal Aviation Administration formally approving a new pathway through the fuel standards body, ASTM International. This new means of synthesising jet fuel is called Alcohol to Jet Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (ATJ-SPK) and is created from an alcohol called isobutanol that is derived from renewable feed stocks such as sugar, corn or forest wastes.

The approval of another pathway is an important step in diversifying the production of sustainable alternative fuel, providing more options for producers and airlines alike. As followers of sustainable aviation will know, alternative fuels can be up to 80% less carbon-intensive over their lifecycle when compared to traditional, fossil-based jet fuel and play an important role in the industry’s long-term plan to reduce emissions.

This decision by the FAA has been keenly awaited by one producer in particular, Gevo, which is currently the only producer of Alcohol to Jet Fuel. Gevo are wasting no time in moving forward with their alcohol-based jet fuel, having already made arrangements Alaska Airlines to schedule a flight using the fuel. However, this approval of the new pathway is sure to encourage others to follow in Gevo’s footsteps.