Virgin Atlantic flies first 100% SAF flight from Heathrow to New York
This will mark the culmination of a year of radical collaboration to demonstrate the capability of SAF as a safe drop-in replacement for fossil derived jet fuel, compatible with today’s engines, airframes and fuel infrastructure.
Flight VS100 will assess how its use affects the flight’s non-carbon emissions with the support of consortium partners ICF, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Imperial College London and University of Sheffield.
The research will improve scientific understanding of the effects of SAF on contrails and particulates and help to implement contrail forecasts in the flight planning process. Data and research will be shared with industry, and Virgin Atlantic will continue its involvement with contrail work through RMI’s Climate Impact Task Force, which is part-funded by Virgin Unite.
The SAF used on Flight100 is a unique dual blend - 88% HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids) supplied by AirBP and 12% SAK (Synthetic Aromatic Kerosene) supplied by Virent, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corporation.
Shai Weiss, chief executive officer, Virgin Atlantic said: “Flight100 proves that SAF can be used as a safe, drop-in replacement for fossil-derived jet fuel and it’s the only viable solution for decarbonising long haul aviation. It’s taken radical collaboration to get here and we’re proud to have reached this important milestone, but we need to push further.”
Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Atlantic said: “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.”
Sheila Remes, vice-president of environmental sustainability, Boeing said: “In 2008 Virgin Atlantic and Boeing completed the first commercial SAF test flight on a 747 and today we will accomplish yet another significant milestone utilising a 787 Dreamliner. This flight is a key step toward our commitment to deliver 100% SAF-compatible airplanes by 2030. As we work toward the civil aviation industry’s net-zero goal, today’s historic journey highlights what we can achieve together.”
Simon Burr, group director of engineering, technology & safety, Rolls-Royce, said: “We are incredibly proud that our Trent 1000 engines are powering the first ever widebody flight using 100% SAF across the Atlantic today. Rolls-Royce has recently completed compatibility testing of 100% SAF on all our in-production civil aero engine types and this is further proof that there are no engine technology barriers to the use of 100% SAF.”