Fully powered SAF flight to take-off from Heathrow next year
The airline has received UK government funding for the flight to show how SAF could replace conventional jet fuel.
It will work with a consortium that includes Rolls-Royce, Boeing, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Imperial College London, University of Sheffield, RMI, and ICF. When fully replacing kerosene, SAF can slash lifecycle carbon emissions by more than 70%, compared to conventional fossil jet fuel.
Virgin Atlantic’s flight is expected to be fuelled by SAF made primarily from waste oils and fats, such as used cooking oil.
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.”
Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, added: “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 support the investment, collaboration and urgency needed to produce SAF at scale. Our collective ambition of Net Zero by 2050 depends on it.”