Maiden transatlantic flight on 100% SAF takes off from London
After nearly an year of preparations, Virgin Atlantic on Tuesday announced that the maiden flight on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) took off from London Heathrow for New York JFK today.
Dubbed as the Flight100, the SAF for the flight was 88% HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids) supplied by AirBP and 12% SAK (Synthetic Aromatic Kerosene) supplied by Virent, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corporation.
“Flight100 proves that Sustainable Aviation Fuel can be used as a safe, drop-in replacement for fossil-derived jet fuel and it’s the only viable solution for decarbonising long haul aviation. It’s taken radical collaboration to get here and we’re proud to have reached this important milestone, but we need to push further,” said Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic.
“There’s simply not enough SAF and it’s clear that in order to reach production at scale, we need to see significantly more investment. This will only happen when regulatory certainty and price support mechanisms, backed by Government, are in place. Flight100 proves that if you make it, we’ll fly it.”
Flight100 will assess how its use affects the flight’s non-carbon emissions with the support of consortium partners ICF, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Imperial College London and University of Sheffield.
“Today’s historic flight, powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel, shows how we can both decarbonise transport and enable passengers to keep flying when and where they want. This Government has backed today’s flight to take-off and we will continue to support the UK’s emerging SAF industry as it creates jobs, grows the economy and gets us to Jet Zero,” said Mark Harper, Transport Secretary, UK.
The flight operated by a Virgin Boeing 787 powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, is the first time a commercial airline has flown long haul on 100% SAF.
It follows the successful transatlantic crossing by a Gulfstream G600 business jet using the same fuel last week.
There will be no paying passengers on board or cargo on Flight100, which comes days before the start of COP28 climate talks in Dubai. SAF is already used in jet engines as part of a blend with traditional kerosene, but after successful ground tests, Virgin and its partners Rolls-Royce, Boeing, BP and others won permission to fly using only SAF.