The airline company Virgin Atlantic announces the first commercial flight for the end of November transatlantic in the world by plane powered by 100% sustainable fuel.
On November 28, 2023 “subject to authorisations”, the British company will deploy between its base in London-Heathrow and the airport of New York-JFK a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner whose Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines will be powered solely by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). According to the Virgin Atlantic press release dated July 20, 2023, fuel suppliers Air bp And Virent will provide the 60 tons of SAF which will be used in the world premiere, SAF produced by the hydrotreated esters and fatty acids route (HEFA, 88%) as well as synthetic aromatic kerosene (SAK, 12%).
Virgin Atlantic is “committed to finding more sustainable ways to fly as part of its Net Zero 2050 mission”. Already operating “one of the most fuel and carbon efficient fleets across the Atlantic” (ten Airbus A330-300 and four A330-900ten A350-1000 and 17 Boeing 787-9) according to its press release, it relies with this flight “on the 15 years of experience of the airline as a leader on SAF. Demonstrate that through radical collaboration, industry can deliver 100% SAF in today’s engines, airframes and fuel infrastructure for long-haul flights. But collectively, the industry must go furtherdevelop a SAF industry in the UK and achieve 10% SAF of aviation by 2030”.
Sustainable aviation fuel “typically delivers lifecycle CO2 emissions savings of more than 70%, while performing like the traditional jet fuel it replaces. SAF has a fundamental role to play in the decarbonization of aviation and the path to NetZero 2050 : it now accounts for less than 0.1% of jet fuel volumes, and standards only allow a 50% blend of SAF in commercial jet aircraft engines. Virgin Atlantic’s unique flight in November will demonstrate the potential of SAF as a 100% replacement for fossil fuels today”.
The November project is expected to “demonstrate further CO2 reductions through operational efficiency, contribute to research and development on the non-CO2 effects of flight, and provide end-to-end life cycle analysis of flight”. All residual CO2 emissions from the flight will be mitigated “using innovative carbon removals via biochar projects”.
Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said: The 100% sustainable aviation fuel transatlantic flight will be a historic moment in aviation’s roadmap to decarbonization. Along with fleet transformation, SAF is the most readily available way for our industry to decarbonize, but currently there is no not enough supply and without this and the radical collaboration needed to produce it, we cannot meet our 2030 targets. We need the support of the UK Government to create a UK SAF industry to enable every flight departing from the UK to operate 100% SAF “.
Taxiing closer to take-off
We’ve achieved a key milestone after a successful blend ground test on the @Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine, and are one step closer to the world’s first transatlantic 100% (SAF) flight from LHR to JFK on 28 November 2023. pic.twitter.com/DUxtgO1bJd
— virginatlantic (@VirginAtlantic) July 20, 2023