Airbus and CSIR-IIP team up on sustainable aviation fuel in India
Photo courtesy of Airbus

Airbus and CSIR-IIP team up on sustainable aviation fuel in India

European planemaker Airbus has signed a deal with India’s public Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and its Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) arm to jointly develop and evaluate sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) sourced and produced locally.

The partners will focus efforts on testing and certifying indigenous feedstocks like cooking oils employing an emerging hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) conversion process. As part of the agreement, they will also cooperate advancing regulatory approval, infrastructure buildout, and sustainability certification assisting Indian SAF industry maturation.

Central government officials facilitated the memorandum of understanding aligning the tie-up to national decarbonisation and self-reliance priorities. Principal scientific advisor Prof. Ajay Sood framed the collaboration as an opportunity helping position India as a global SAF production hub.

In statements, both Airbus India Lead Remi Maillard and CSIR-IIP Director Dr. Harender Singh Bisht referenced SAF’s increasing indispensability in achieving air transport emissions reductions targets. Maillard particularly cited India’s scale-up abilities around the technologies given raw material availability and the depth of its chemical engineering talent.

Airbus maintains a roadmap enabling aircraft compatibility with up to 100% SAF by the end of this decade. As part of the deal, its engineers will supply CSIR counterparts both fuel testing diagnostics and aircraft integration expertise during preliminary trials. The effort intends to accelerate localised supply chain refinement ahead of projected aviation biofuel demand spikes.

The agreement represents Airbus’ latest move cementing partnerships across private and public Indian entities to nurture decarbonisation ecosystem aspects still requiring maturation domestically.

Recent memoranda of understanding also bring in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for military helicopter electrification and greenhouse gas accounting assistance from Infosys subsidiary Wingify.

Observers noted CSIR’s extensive existing biofuels research history and specialised pilot facilities offer Airbus both validated proof-of-concept and optimised commercialisation environments. They predict successful small-scale demonstrations may attract downstream aviation partners like airlines or airport operators.

But analysts stressed establishing cost parity and financing for required upstream logistics buildout remains top barriers curbing SAF adoption momentum elsewhere replicating in India without policymaker intervention.

They believe the partnership’s embedded governmental backing signals widening acceptance of sustainability subsidies and SAF blending mandates closing viability gaps to activate latent production potentials. Early taxpayer support facilitated similar renewable diesel and ethanol industry kickstarts are seen as templates.