Virgin Atlantic secures permit to conduct 100% transatlantic SAF flight


Virgin Atlantic airlines has secured permits from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to carry out a 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) flight from London to New York on November 28th.

“As the UK’s aviation regulator, it’s important that we safely enable the industry to embrace more sustainable practices and push the boundaries of what’s possible to create a greener aviation industry,” said Rob Bishton, chief executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

The permit follows a programme of technical reviews by the regulator, which analysed different aspects of the planned flight, including undertaking ground testing with Rolls-Royce on a Trent 1000 engine running on 100% SAF.

A ground test using the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine was successfully carried out in July earlier this year.

Led by Virgin Atlantic and partly funded by Department for Transport, preparation for the flight has involved a consortium of companies comprised of Boeing, Rolls-Royce, BP, and others, to demonstrate SAF as an alternative to regular jet fuel.

Fuel suppliers Air bp and Virent will supply 60 tonnes of SAF to be used in the flight. The SAF will be produced through the HEFA pathway as well as synthetic aromatic kerosene (SAK) SAF at an 88% and 12% blend ratio.

Virgin Atlantic were awarded up to £1m UK government funding in December 2022, following a challenge from the Department for Transport to support the industry in achieving the first transatlantic flight on an aircraft powered by 100% SAF.

The permit forms one of the approvals required for the flight and paves the way for Virgin Atlantic to submit applications to the Federal Aviation Administration, Irish Aviation Authority, and Transport Canada to allow the flight to travel through US, Irish and Canadian airspace.