Virgin Atlantic to operate first ‘net zero’ transatlantic flight

A Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft flying
Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is preparing to conduct the first flight from London to New York using a Boeing 787 aircraft powered solely by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The airline received £1 million ($1,2 million) in funding from the British government to showcase how SAF could eventually replace conventional jet fuel. It will be supported by Rolls-Royce, Boeing, Pratt & Whitney Canada, and several research institutions.

“Not only will this flight pave the way for future generations, but it will demonstrate just how much we can achieve when we work together on a shared goal – bringing together some of the best businesses and academics in the world and led by a British airline,” UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper said in a press release

According to Virgin Atlantic, the acquired SAF will be processed primarily from waste oils and fats, such as used cooking oil.

In October 2018, the British carrier operated the first commercial flight using LanzaTech’s sustainable jet fuel derived from the waste gases of steel mills.

In July 2022, the UK government unveiled a new ‘Jet Zero’ strategy, with plans to have at least five commercial-scale SAF plants under construction in the United Kingdom by 2025. In addition, it aims to produce at least 10% (around 1.5 billion liters) of the country’s jet fuel from sustainable sources by 2030.

In November 2022, the British Royal Air Force and Airbus completed the first military transporter flight using 100% SAF on all engines of an A330 MRTT tanker. 

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