The future of flight took off as a Virgin airliner crossed the Atlantic solely powered by sustainable fossil-based jet fuel (SAF) last Tuesday (28 November 2023).
It is a £1 million UK Government-funded exercise and claimed to be a huge step towards Jet Zero, the long-term plan to help the world “fly sustainably”.
Mark Harper, British Secretary of State for Transport, travelled on the flight alongside Shai Weiss, Chief Executive, Virgin Atlantic, and Sir Richard Branson, the airline’s founder.
The historic trip is powered by SAF made from waste fats which cannot enter the food chain. Repurposing waste products into jet fuel to cut emissions provides the most immediate solution to help decarbonise our skies.
Virgin Atlantic and their consortium were awarded the funding in December 2022, following a challenge from the Department for Transport to support the industry in achieving the first transatlantic flight on a commercial aircraft powered by 100% SAF.
SAF has a greenhouse gas emissions reduction of around 70% when compared against standard jet fuel over its life cycle – allowing greener travel and keeping the UK connected to the world.
Mark Harper said: “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”.
SAF will become an increasing part of the standard jet fuel mix, driven by our upcoming SAF mandate, with at least 10% of jet fuel being from sustainable sources in 2030. This will mean that business or leisure travellers can fly knowing their carbon footprint will be lower than ever before”.
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