13 November 2023
By Tom Collins
Sean Kelly MEP attends official launch of project supported by Enterprise Ireland
Cork HQ’d Atlantic Flight Training Academy (AFTA), today announced the commencement of its transition to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). SAF is an innovative plant-based fuel and can reduce carbon emissions by more than 90%. Through the acquisition of new next generation training aircraft AFTA will ensure an increasing number of its fleet can use SAF.
AFTA trains the next generation of commercial pilots and is the leading English speaking flight school in the EU providing ‘ab inito’ pilot training under European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Regulations. It has a strong partnership with both Munster Technological University and Enterprise Ireland, which is supporting the transition to SAF enabled aircraft.
AFTA’s ambition is to be a global leader in sustainable methods of pilot training for world-leading airlines, and the company has already landed it’s first SAF training aircraft, with plans to convert it’s entire fleet to alternative power plants in the coming years.
This follows on from AFTA’s achievement of being the first EASA approved flight training academy to introduce ‘Sustainability and Environmental Awareness’ in every aspect of a pilot’s training journey.
Speaking at AFTA’s ESG briefing update, Sean Kelly Ireland South MEP and member of the European Parliament Committee for Industry, Research and Energy, commented:
“It is encouraging to see how an Irish-EU based Pilot Education Academy, AFTA, who working with their MTU and airline partners, can strive to lead the global Pilot Training industry in it’s transition to a low-carbon future. Captain Mark Casey and the AFTA team are renowned as being an innovative Aviation Training Academy committed to a low-carbon emissions future and their leadership approach is recognised in Europe, by being the first EASA approved flight training academy to introduce “Sustainability and Environmental awareness” in every aspect of the pilot cadets training.
“ I wish the Sustainability team at AFTA continued success in their transition to a low carbon future and further sustainable objectives.”
“I also note the findings of the recent study into the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel in Ireland which demonstrates its significant employment potential, up to 1000 jobs. However, as outlined in the reports (Research and Development) recommendations, it is important that Ireland and the EU continue to fund and support the promotion of SAF technologies leveraging Ireland’s third-level institutions and Government entities such as Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and SEAI.”
Commenting on AFTA’s ambitions for sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint, Captain Mark Casey, AFTA CEO and Head of training, said:
“We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint significantly in line with government policy by 2030. The introduction of the Diamond DA42 NG has already proven to be a ‘game changer’ for the business. These state of the art modern aircraft are quieter, significantly more fuel efficient and most importantly they can run on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) which results in a 90% reduction in carbon emissions for our fleet. The next priority for AFTA is the conversion of 15 Cessna 172 Skyhawk aircraft to SAF powered engines and today marks the launch of the first converted aircraft with additional aircraft to follow in quick succession.We are committed to achieving the 2030 deadline for a 100% fleet conversion to SAF ahead of schedule and we are in continuous discussions with manufacturers and airframe retrofit component providers to lock in an achievable timeline to conversion.” An acutely focused strategic priority for AFTA is to eliminate our impact on the environment. In an ever changing business environment reducing our environmental impact with SAF will serve to de-risk our business as the airline industry accelerates its transition to alternative fuels.
Devilla Flynn of Enterprise Ireland said,
“In a bold stride towards a more sustainable aviation industry, Atlantic Flight Training Academy has set a remarkable example by adopting SAF to reduce their CO2 emissions. This environmentally conscious move is not only changing the way we learn to fly but also shaping the future of the aviation sector, proving that commitment to greener skies is now taking off in the classroom”.
David Crowley, Sustainability Specialist at Cork Airport said:
“Cork Airport is delighted to see this innovation taking place. Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are a very important part of the aviation industry’s transition to a more sustainable future. Its’s great to see AFTA taking practical steps to demonstrate the viability of this technology on the sustainability journey to net zero.”