Sustainable fuel sources

in Our environment

United is years ahead of all U.S. airlines in using and investing in sustainable aviation fuel.

It’s great to be first, especially when you’re an airline. And even better when it means you’re doing something good for the environment.

Infographic, a timeline of firsts. 2009, United ran the first alternative fuel test flight using fuel derived from algae. 2011, The first commercial flight powered by advanced biofuel takes off with United. 2013, United partakes in the first commercial-scale supply agreement for sustainable aviation biofuel 2015, United invests in Fulcrum BioEnergy, becoming the first U.S. airline to invest in a biofuels company. 2016, United becomes the first U.S. airline to use renewable biofuel for regularly scheduled flights.

United made history in 2016 by becoming the first U.S. airline to use commercial-scale volumes of sustainable aviation fuel for regularly scheduled flights, beginning out of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). United has purchased over 2 million gallons of biofuel at LAX from AltAir Fuels in the first two years of operation.

Our collaboration with AltAir began in 2009, with a mutual goal of bringing an ongoing source of sustainable aviation fuels to an airport. As part of this initiative, AltAir became the very first company to win certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials for producing sustainable biojet fuel with 60 percent fewer emissions than traditional jet fuel on a lifecycle basis.

Another key to this successful venture occurred in 2015, when United invested $30 million in U.S.-based alternative fuels developer Fulcrum BioEnergy, a pioneer in the development and commercialization of converting municipal solid waste into low-cost sustainable aviation fuel. That investment was the single largest by any airline in biofuels, setting United apart in the aviation industry in the advancement of aviation biofuels and carbon emissions reductions. Fulcrum recently started building their first-ever, industrial-sized refinery to turn household trash into sustainable aviation fuel — reducing emissions more than 80 percent on a life cycle basis, compared to traditional petroleum fuel.

Many industries have talked about the need to develop and use sustainable fuels. At United, we are proud to be leading the way in this very important trend.

Learn more about sustainable fuel sources.

Recent stories about sustainable fuel sources

United Airlines Makes History with Launch of Regularly Scheduled Flights Using Sustainable Biofuel (March 11, 2016)

United - Eco-Skies - LAX Biofuel Initiative With AltAir Fuels (March 14, 2016: VIDEO)

Biofuel takes flight in Los Angeles (March 17, 2016)

Biofuel 101 (September 8, 2017: VIDEO)