DALLAS – The UK Government will offer £1m in funding to help Virgin Atlantic (VS) operate the world’s first “net zero” transatlantic flight in 2023.
VS will fly one of its Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-powered Boeing 787-9s from London Heathrow (LHR) to New York (JFK) using Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). This will be produced using waste oil and fats such as old cooking oil.
“Committed to Innovation”
Speaking of the historic flight, Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, said, “As an airline founded on and committed to innovation, we’re proud to lead a cross-industry consortium of partners to make aviation history by operating the first ever 100% SAF flight across the Atlantic. Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight in 1984 was to New York and today it continues to be one of our most popular routes. It will be an honour to pave the way for this important business and leisure route to become even more sustainable.
“This challenge recognises the critical role that SAF has to play in decarbonising aviation and the urgent collective action needed to scale production and use of SAF globally. The research and results will be a huge step in fast-tracking SAF use across the aviation industry and supporting the investment, collaboration and urgency needed to produce SAF at scale. Our collective ambition of net zero by 2050 depends on it.
The SAF will be combined with carbon removal credits, making the flight “net zero,” according to the UK’s Department for Transport (DFT). It is hoped that the flight will demonstrate the viability of 100% SAF flights which the government believes is vital in decarbonising the aviation industry.
‘Jet Zero Strategy’
Under the ‘Jet Zero Strategy,’ the government hopes to make the UK ‘a global leader in the development, production and use of SAF. It plans to have five commercial-scale SAF plants under construction across the country by 2025. Currently, a maximum of 50% SAF blended with 50% traditional jet fuel can be used in commercial aircraft. However, this flight will help gather data to support current and future work to certify higher blends and ‘demonstrate the potential to decarbonise long-haul routes and bring us a step closer to net zero aviation.’
‘Transport Secretary Mark Harper said, “For decades, flying from London to New York has symbolised aviation’s ability to connect people and drive international progress. It’s now going to be at the forefront of cutting carbon emissions from flying.
“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.”
Featured Image: The flight will be operated by one of VS’s Boeing 787-9s. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways.