Virgin Atlantic Conducts Test for SAF Transatlantic Flight - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Sourcing Renewables  -  July 24, 2023

Virgin Atlantic Conducts Test for SAF Transatlantic Flight

Virgin Atlantic confirmed a successful Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) blend ground test with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine. 

The test is a key milestone in the project to achieve the first 100% SAF flight travel across the Atlantic from London Heathrow to New York's JFK airport on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The flight is scheduled for November 28, 2023.

Fuel suppliers Air BP and Virent will supply the 60 tons of SAF to be used in testing and the flight itself. The SAF will be produced through the Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA) pathway as well as synthetic aromatic kerosene (SAK) SAF at an 88% and 12% blend ratio.

The one-off Virgin Atlantic flight in November will demonstrate the potential of SAF as a 100% drop-in replacement for fossil fuel. Virgin Atlantic has a goal to find more sustainable ways to fly to achieve its mission of Net Zero 2050. 

The project is being conducted by a  consortium led by Virgin Atlantic and jointly funded by the Department for Transport and includes Rolls Royce, Boeing, University of Sheffield, Imperial College London and Rocky Mountain Institute. 

The project will demonstrate more reductions in CO2 from operational efficiencies, contribute to research and development into the non-CO2 effects of flying, and provide an end-to-end life cycle analysis of the flight. Any residual CO2 emissions from the flight will be mitigated using carbon removals from biochar projects.

“The 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel transatlantic flight will be a historic moment in aviation’s roadmap to decarbonization,” said Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, in a statement. “Alongside fleet transformation, SAF is the most readily available way for our industry to decarbonize, but currently there’s not enough supply, and without it and the radical collaboration required to produce it, we can’t meet our 2030 targets. We need UK government support to create a UK SAF industry to allow for every single flight out of the UK to operate with 100% SAF – if we make it, we can fly it.”


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