View the CAAFI brochure: an overview of CAAFI’s background, goals, and accomplishments.

About CAAFI®

photo of a plane's jet engine with a large Sustainable Biofuel sticker

Since 2006 the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) has sought to enhance energy security and environmental sustainability for aviation by exploring the use of alternative jet fuels. CAAFI is a coalition of airlines, aircraft and engine manufacturers, energy producers, researchers, international participants and U.S. government agencies. Together these stakeholders are leading the development and deployment of alternative jet fuels for commercial aviation.

CAAFI’s goal is to promote the development of alternative jet fuel options that offer equivalent levels of safety and compare favorably on cost with petroleum based jet fuel, while also offering environmental improvement and security of energy supply for aviation.

The recent volatility in petroleum prices caused fuel to become the single largest component of U.S. airline operating cost for the first time in history in 2006. And, concern about the environmental impacts of aviation growth is also rising within the international community. While U.S. commercial aviation consumes about 3 percent of U.S. total energy use, it drives about 6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product and just under 9 percent of national employment. Secure and sustainable fuel sources are essential for its continued prosperity.

Aviation is international in scope, highly integrated in its fuel supply chain and, because of a significant ability to align and coordinate within the industry, well positioned to pursue alternative fuels

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Function & Focus

CAAFI primarily serves as a means of exchanging information and coordinating stakeholder efforts. This is done through the holding of technical workshops, outreach to domestic and international aviation, energy, and financial industry forums, and communication with the news media.

CAAFI participants are evaluating alternative jet fuels in teams focused in four areas:

  • Fuel Certification and Qualification
    To ensure the safety of any alternative fuels given the demanding environment posed by aviation operations, participants are creating a new jet fuels approval process via the ASTM International standard setting body. Fuel approval will enable the safe use of alternative jet fuels and guarantee manufacturer, user and regulatory confidence in them.
  • Research and Development
    To improve understanding of the broad range of new fuel production technologies and feedstocks that can be applied to aviation, participants are sharing analyses and identifying and coordinating research activities.
  • Environment
    To assess the spectrum of environmental impacts of any alternative fuel options developed, participants are working to measure engine emissions that affect air quality and quantify the full life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the fuel production process including feedstock extraction and transport, fuel processing, fuel distribution and land use changes.
  • Business and Economics
    To facilitate the deployment of alternative jet fuels in the marketplace, participants are connecting fuel producers and consumers, evaluating the business case for use of alternative jet fuel, and identifying opportunities for deployment.

CAAFI participants meet regularly to update the state of alternative jet fuel developments in these areas, identify gaps and hurdles, and decide on next steps required in the research, development and deployment process.

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CAAFI - Frequently Asked Questions

What is CAAFI?
CAAFI is an acronym for the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative. CAAFI is a coalition of aviation stakeholders who are interested in bringing commercially viable, sustainable, alternative jet fuels to the marketplace. CAAFI is engaged in various activities to enable and facilitate the near term development and commercialization of such fuels.

Who are CAAFI's stakeholders (sponsors and participants)?
CAAFI is co-sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA), the Airlines for America (A4A) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In addition, CAAFI membership consists of approximately 450 organizations and 800 stakeholders. These include members of other U.S. and non-U.S. government agencies and trade associations, as well as energy producers, university faculty, nongovernmental organizations and consultants.

Why and how was CAAFI formed?
CAAFI was formed in 2006 in response to three concerns regarding aviation fuels: 1) supply security, 2) affordability and price stability, and 3) environmental impacts. These concerns prompted the FAA Office of Environment and Energy R&D Advisory Board to request action on aviation alternative fuels from the FAA Office of Environment and Energy. Following initial presentations by the manufacturing sector and the U.S. Air Force at a Transportation Research Board (TRB) forum in January 2006, FAA, A4A, and AIA elected to form a coalition of interested parties to foster alternative jet fuel development, later formalized as CAAFI; ACI-NA joined shortly thereafter.

How does CAAFI function?
CAAFI functions in several ways. It serves a primary role as a clearinghouse, facilitating the exchange of information about, and coordination of, private-sector and governmental initiatives supporting the development and commercialization of “drop-in” alternative aviation fuels (i.e., fuels that can directly supplement or replace petroleum-derived jet fuels). CAAFI members execute on in-kind work programs, while CAAFI sponsors (and their members) and other public-private partners provide resources for the execution of various work elements. CAAFI often serves as an industry voice that communicates progress and the need for the execution of a very broad range of efforts by the entire jet-powered aviation enterprise.

What is the long-term goal of CAAFI?
CAAFI aims to facilitate the development and deployment of alternative jet fuels that will significantly reduce emissions associated with aviation operations in commercially meaningful quantities while improving price stability and supply security. The availability of fuels produced from renewable feedstocks and/or other waste-streams will help operators reduce aviation's net carbon footprint, even as aviation activity increases.

What does CAAFI believe are the prospects for alternative aviation fuels?
CAAFI is confident that sustainable alternative jet fuel derived from several feedstocks will be commercially available in the next one to five years and is working with other stakeholders to enable various industry goals (FAA's articulated goal of having one billion gallons of alternative jet fuel in use in the US in 2018; the commitment of the commercial airlines and States to achieve net carbon neutral growth in international aviation from 2020 onward, etc.). The types and volumes of alternatives reaching the marketplace will depend on many factors, including the extent of governmental support (R&D and policy), new technological developments, and investor interest. CAAFI is both feedstock- and technology-neutral; that is, it does not support specific technologies or feedstocks to the exclusion of others, but rather seeks to facilitate conditions in which alternative fuels can thrive and compete openly within the bounds set by policymakers and the marketplace.

How is CAAFI organized?
CAAFI has an Executive Director who acts as an overall coordinator and instigator for the work of CAAFI. The Executive Director is supported in his execution of CAAFI work programs by an Executive Director Emeritus and a Leadership Team, which includes a Head Advisor for Strategy and Implementation (FAA) and a Head Advisor for Research & Technical (Volpe) and other support team members.

  • Membership: CAAFI is ultimately a cooperative initiative…a public private partnership comprised of individuals and/or entities who are interested in supporting and/or engaging in the work of CAAFI. There is no cost to becoming a CAAFI member.
  • CAAFI Work Teams: The Work Teams are led by volunteers from the CAAFI membership who are approved by the Sponsors and Executive Director. At present, there are four Work Teams: Research and Development, Certification/Qualification, Environment, and Business.
  • The CAAFI Steering Group (SG) guides CAAFI's overall strategy and efforts. The Steering Group is comprised of the Executive Director and Leadership Team, Sponsor representatives, and leaders of the various CAAFI Work Teams.
  • CAAFI's Sponsors include:
    • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Environment and Energy
    • Airlines for America (A4A)
    • Aerospace Industries Association (AIA)
    • Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA)

What has CAAFI accomplished to date?

  • Fuel Specification Approvals. The CAAFI certification and qualification team works within established processes to help move promising alternative aviation fuels through industry evaluation to approval by ASTM International and other recognized certifying bodies. Government agencies, fuel manufacturers, aircraft and engine manufacturers, and airlines are stakeholders in CAAFI, and many participate on the certification team. The industry has agreed that these alternative fuels should “drop-in” to commercial engines, pipelines, fuel farms, and all other distribution and storage channels, thus requiring no new equipment or infrastructure. With assistance from the CAAFI Certification and Qualification Team, three drop-in alternative jet fuels have already been certified for commercial use (more detail below).
  • Fuel & Feedstock Readiness Tools. CAAFI has developed a collection of tools that facilitate assessment and advancement of fuel and feedstock readiness with respect to ASTM approval, R&D and deployment activities, environmental sustainability, and commercialization. See the Fuel Readiness Tools page.
  • Stakeholder coordination and communication. CAAFI enhances communication among government agencies, aviation sector trade associations, industry, fuel producers, feedstock producers, academic researchers, and non-governmental organizations via the CAAFI Biennial General Meeting and team meetings, Global Exchange with other public-private partnerships around the globe, webinars, conference presentations, and other venues.
  • Strategic thought leadership. CAAFI participates domestically with interagency working groups and strategic initiatives (e.g., Federal Alternative Jet Fuel Strategy, Biomass Research and Development Board, Billion Ton Bioeconomy), collaborative forums, alternative jet fuel research consortia (e.g., Aviation Sustainability Center (ASCENT)).
  • State Initiatives. CAAFI has facilitated formation of supply chains for alternative jet fuel deployment through the State Initiatives, now underway in 8 states within the U.S.
  • Awards and Recognition. Multiple representatives in the 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 & 2010 Top 100 People in the Bioeconomy (Biofuels Digest), 2011 Washington DC Chapter of Advancing Women in Transportation Innovative Solutions Award, 2011 Washington Airports Task Force Williams Trophy, 2010 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, 2010 Air Transport World Award

How does CAAFI interact with the other global alternative aviation fuel coalitions?
CAAFI collaborates with alternative aviation coalitions across the globe, including formal work plan development with its Australian and German counterparts, AISAF and aireg, respectively. CAAFI initiated an ongoing “global exchange” of ideas to facilitate complementary work programs and help aviation present a united framework to facilitate development and deployment of advanced alternative jet fuels. The various organizations working to advance alternative jet fuels understand that fuel production and commercialization will be an effort requiring support from various stakeholders and entities.

What is the focus of current CAAFI activity?
CAAFI supports the development and deployment of sustainable alternative jet fuels for use by the commercial aviation community via the following objectives.

  1. Advocacy & Communication: Promote the development and use of sustainable alternative jet fuels by clearly articulating the drivers for the use of alternative jet fuel.
  2. Building Frameworks & Sharing Best Practices: Enable knowledge sharing and facilitate communication, evaluation, and collaboration amongst interested parties.
  3. Coalition Building:Continuously seek to strengthen the stakeholder coalition.
  4. Deployment Support: Foster the commercial alternative jet fuel supply by supporting domestic state and regional deployment initiatives and advising international deployment initiatives.
  5. Engagement & Coordination: Convene stakeholders and enable engagement and coordination on alternative jet fuel activities by facilitating opportunities for connection and cooperation amongst members, sharing best practices, and leveraging success models.
  6. Fuel Qualification: Advance fuels qualification by facilitating communication of stakeholders; establishing a roadmap of qualification activities, plans and needs; providing support for production, testing and approval of multiple pathways at ASTM; and striving to improve the entire qualification and certification process.

When should we expect to see alternative fuels in commercial production?
In the U.S., CAAFI hopes to see production commence in 2015 from the first dedicated middle distillate facility. We then expect the three Defense Production Act (DPA) awardees to start producing alternative jet fuel in 2016/2017. Three alternative aviation fuel pathways have already been approved for use in commercial aviation, and seven additional advanced fuel pathways are undergoing evaluation for ASTM qualification and are likely to come online in the next few years as production capacity challenges are addressed.

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