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Virgin Atlantic Completes Flight Using Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Virgin Atlantic Completes Historic Flight Using Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

Joanna Teljeur
Written By Joanna Teljeur
1 minutes read
Last Updated: December 01, 2023

On November 28th 2023, Virgin Atlantic made the world’s first flight using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in a commercial airline. Flying from London Heathrow to New York JFK, the Boeing 787 with a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine is a true milestone.

It was the end result of intense collaboration by a Virgin Atlantic-led consortium that included Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Imperial College London, University of Sheffield, ICF, and Rocky Mountain Institute partnering with the Department for Transport.

A Hopeful Future for Sustainable Fuels

This groundbreaking event showcases the potential of SAF as a safe substitute for conventional fossil-derived jet fuel and demonstrates compatibility with existing engines, airframes, and fuel infrastructure. 

SAF has a major role in the decarbonization of long-haul flights and paves the way toward achieving Net Zero by 2050. Made of waste products, the fuel achieves up to a 70% reduction in C02 emissions while maintaining the same performance as fossil-based jet fuel.

The Sustainable Aviation Fuel used in Flight100 is made of 88% HEFA (Hydroprocessed Easters nad Fatty Acids) that was provided by AirBP and 12% SAK (Synthetic Aromatic Kerosene) that was provided by Virent.

HEFA is derived from waste fats and combines with SAK that’s made from plant sugars.

Reaching Net Zero by 2050

To reach Net Zero by 2050, innovation and investment are vital in order to increase the amount of SAF available and to improve the development and research needed for zero-emission planes.

Virgin Atlantic is committed to finding more sustainable ways of flying by taking comprehensive action in every part of the journey. With one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets in the world, Flight100 adds to the airline’s 15-year legacy to develop SAF creation.

More collective efforts will be needed going forward to build a UK SAF industry and meet the aviation sector’s 10% SAF by 2030 goal. Not only will it help the environment but it will also provide a benefit socially and economically. It’s estimated that the industry could contribute 1.8 billion in Gross Value Added to the UK economy as well as the creation of more than 10,000 jobs.

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