Sustainable Aviation Is Not an Oxymoron

Sustainable Aviation Fuel can reduce net greenhouse gases by up to 80%—and it’s available today’

It’s easy to watch a 340-ton aircraft barreling down the runway, hurtling into the sky at 230 miles per hour, hearing the roar of those powerful jet engines and assume you are witnessing pollution on a massive scale. But in reality, the worldwide aviation industry accounts for less than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions1.

Furthermore, the business aviation segment of the industry—operating private jets for business and personal travel—accounts for only 0.4% of those emissions1. This is not to minimize or trivialize the impact of jet emission— merely to put it into perspective. In fact, the aviation community takes this issue very seriously.

Industry-Wide Innovation to Operate Sustainably

Through the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Initiative, the industry committed to achieving three goals:

1. 2% annual increase in fuel efficiency from 2010 until 2020;

2. 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, relative to 2005; and

3. Carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onward

Those are aggressive goals that require solutions across multiple levels. To meet them. over the past 10 years aviation organizations and companies have been tirelessly innovating to develop more fuel-efficient engines, using alternate sources of fuel like hydrogen and electric propulsion. These technologies are in varying stages of development. In the meantime, there is a proven, practical and increasingly available solution that is being produced today—Sustainable Aviation Fuel or SAF—which can make a real impact on reducing pollution today.

What Exactly Is SAF?

On January 17, 2019, at Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles, several business aviation associations, the local airport administration, private jet manufacturers and the three private jet terminals at the airport came together to raise the profile SAF. SAF is produced from sustainable feedstocks, such as cooking oil, solid waste or food scraps that would otherwise go to a landfill. Compared with traditional, fossil-based jet fuel, SAF is very similar in its chemistry yet results in up to an 80% reduction in carbon emissions.

Compared with traditional, fossil-based jet fuel, SAF is very similar in its chemistry yet results in up to an 80% reduction in carbon emissions.

Where Can You Get SAF for Your Business Jet?

SAF is still new and not yet in widespread production. However, in the United States a handful of private jet terminals (FBOs) are offering customers a limited but steady supply. Clay Lacy Aviation, through a partnership with World Fuel Services, recently announced it will receive 100,000 gallons of SAF in 2021, and offer it beginning April 1 at its two FBO locations, Van Nuys Airport and John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

What Else Is the Industry Doing?

As the production and availability of SAF steadily increases, forward-leaning aviation companies are taking further steps to reduce or offset their carbon impact, on the ground as well as in the air. For example, many are switching to electricity from renewable resources like solar or wind for their facilities. They are also increasingly powering their ground support vehicles with renewable diesel, which has a 60% to 80% lower carbon intensity than regular diesel. And finally, if emissions cannot be eliminated or reduced, individuals and companies can purchase and retire carbon offsets. While it is better to actually reduce emissions, carbon offsetting helps provide a short-term bridge to a sustainable future.

Read more of Scott Cutshall’s thought leadership.

My  Company’s Journey Toward Sustainability

For my company, Clay Lacy Aviation, the road to more sustainable operations began 18 months ago and required a learning process for all us. Through that process we have gained an understanding of the many highly complex aspects of sustainability. We have strengthened our long-term commitment to carbon reduction, measuring our current impact and building a strategic sustainability plan with goals, timelines and tactics. I am delighted that Clay Lacy is taking a leadership role within our industry. I am also excited by the many people who are working so diligently to reduce their carbon impact and create a better world for us and for future generations—while allowing everyone to travel and explore. You can learn more about our strategy at



  1. Source: IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
  2. Source: Oregon Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation: Primer on Renewable Diesel Factsheet

Thought leadership.

Branded Jet Charter

Another new entrant within the past 10 years, branded charter is similar to traditional charter with one key difference. The planes, just like a commercial airline, are part of a fleet of similar models, painted alike and branded with the logo of the company that owns them. Because every plane looks the same, aircraft and crews are often changed out in between flights. For example, you may be on plane A from L.A. to Dallas, but your flight the next day from Dallas to New York could be on plane B with a different crew.