Willis Lease Finance Corporation, a leading lessor of commercial aircraft engines and provider of global aviation service operations for more than 45 years, has announced a project to develop and produce power-to-liquid (PtL) Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

The company and its subsidiary, Willis Sustainable Fuels (UK) Limited, along with financial and strategic partners, are advancing plans toward a new SAF refinery in northeastern England.

Air travel, when compared to other modes of transportation such as automotive and rail, poses unique challenges to decarbonise. “Our pioneering PtL SAF project would directly support the global aviation industry’s ambitious goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, which represents a major, near-term step in the important effort to decarbonise aviation,” said Austin C. Willis, CEO of WLFC.

“As one of the first aviation leasing companies to spearhead a SAF initiative of this magnitude, we are thrilled to be continuing our legacy as a leader and innovator in aviation.

“The SAF project is one element of our broader strategy to contribute towards the decarbonization of aviation. WLFC has committed to and invested approximately $1.5BN in modern technology, lower fuel consumption engines over the past few years, and will continue to do so in support of this strategy.”

Valued relationship with Teesside International Airport

“Building on our valued relationship with Teesside International Airport, we’re excited to partner with local stakeholders to continue to advance our plans toward the first PtL SAF refinery in Teesside,” said Willis.

The company’s initial focus in the UK is largely based on its existing relationship with Tees Valley, where WLFC has developed Willis Aviation Services Limited and Jet Centre by Willis at Teesside International Airport over the last 36 months.

The new SAF refinery project completed feasibility studies in late 2022. Working closely with Teesside International Airport and partners with subject matter expertise in sustainable energy as well as building infrastructure, WLFC believes that SAF is the most viable near-term way to contribute to a decarbonised future in aviation.

The project is now in the front-end engineering design stage. The PtL SAF process is being designed to utilize feedstocks derived from CO2 and green hydrogen (produced from renewable electricity) leading to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

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