World's first transatlantic flight using 100% 'green fuel' takes to the skies
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A Virgin Atlantic passenger plane fully powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) has successfully taken off.
The flight 'marks a world first on 100 percent SAF (a.k.a. 'green fuel') by a commercial airline across the Atlantic'. Prepare for lift off:
Companies including BP, Rolls-Royce, Boeing were involved in Virgin's project too, helping obtain permission for the plane to be the first of its kind to fly solely with SAF fuels.
SAF fuels are 'non-petroleum based renewable sources' - such as cooking oils, manures and algae - that can either be used mixed with kerosene, or as a total replacement for typical jet fuel.
SAF is only currently used in jet engines to 'a maximum blend of 50 percent with traditional kerosene without the need for any modifications,' Virgin Atlantic's website explains.
However, the Flight100 is using 'a unique dual blend' of '88 percent HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids) supplied by AirBP and 12 percent SAK (Synthetic Aromatic Kerosene)'. The HEFA is made from waste fats and the SAK, plant sugars.
Virgin Atlantic continues: "When fully replacing kerosene, SAF could reduce lifecycle carbon emissions by over 70 percent compared to conventional fossil jet fuel."
While there are no paying passengers onboard the flight, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is one of a handful to experience the world-first flight.
He said in a blog post to Virgin's website: "The world will always assume something can’t be done… until you do it. The spirit of innovation is getting out there and trying to prove that we can do things better for everyone’s benefit.
"This flight today shows that sustainable jet fuel can be used as a drop-in replacement for jet fuel - and it is the only viable solution for decarbonising long-haul flights."
It's hoped the flight will help convince governments to pour more funding into SAF fuels for planes and allow for greater percentages of it to be used in commercial jet engines - SAFs around three to five times more expensive than normal fuel, as per Reuters.
CEO of Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss - who is also onboard today's flight - said in a statement: "Getting to this point has been more than a year in the making and taken radical collaboration across our consortium partners and government.
"We’re committed to using 10 percent SAF by 2030, but to get there we need the government to support the creation of a UK SAF industry. We know that if we can make it, we can fly it."
Chief Executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority Rob Bishton added: "As the UK’s aviation regulator, it’s important that we safely enable the industry to embrace more sustainable practices and push the boundaries of what’s possible to create a greener aviation industry.
"[...] Innovation and sustainability are vital areas of work, but they must go hand in hand with safety. This is a reminder that together we can drive change, reduce emissions, and make the skies greener for generations to come."