LONDON - A Virgin Atlantic jet will make the world’s first net-zero flight across the Atlantic Ocean next year, the UK government said on Friday.
The Boeing 787 will take off from London Heathrow bound for JFK airport in New York, powered entirely by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The flight is expected to be fuelled by SAF made mainly from waste oil and fats such as used cooking oil, according to the Department for Transport.
“When fully replacing kerosene, SAF can slash lifecycle carbon emissions by over 70 per cent compared to conventional fossil jet fuel,” it added.
“The use of 100 per cent SAF on the flight, combined with carbon removal through biochar credits – a material which traps and stores carbon taken from the atmosphere – will make the flight net-zero.”
Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss said SAF had a “critical role” to play in cutting carbon emissions in the aviation industry.
“Urgent collective action” was needed to increase the production and use of SAF across the world, he added.
Currently, a maximum of 50 per cent SAF blended with kerosene can be used in commercial jet engines.
But the consortium behind next year’s flight, including engine makers Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney Canada and university researchers, hope it will demonstrate the potential of using only SAF.
The Department for Transport said a British Royal Air Force Voyager jet last month became “the world’s first sustainable-fuel military transporter flight” using 100 per cent SAF.
The production of SAF is still in its infancy and should triple this year worldwide to 300 million litres, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an industry body.
In 2019, just 25 million litres of the 413 billion litres of aviation fuel used was SAF, International Energy Agency (IEA) figures show.
The cost of SAF also needs to be addressed as it costs about four times as much as kerosene. AFP