Sustainable Aviation Fuel transatlantic flight edges closer to take-off

SAF Flight Engine Test
SAF Flight Engine Test

A consortium led by Virgin Atlantic has confirmed a successful ground test for the world’s first 100 per cent Sustainable Aviation Fuel flight, which is set to cross the Atlantic later this year.

A successful ground test of a planned transatlantic flight that will run off 100 per cent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) has been confirmed by Virgin Atlantic and Rolls-Royce.

The test on a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine was initiated using a SAF blend of 88 per cent HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids) and 12 per cent Synthetic Aromatic Kerosene (SAK), marking a key milestone in the project.

The flight will be undertaken by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is set to journey across the Atlantic from London Heathrow to New York JFK on 28 November, pending further testing and regulatory approvals.

Virgin Atlantic - SAF Flight Engine Test

SAF is said to deliver CO2 lifecycle emissions savings of more than 70 per cent while performing like traditional jet fuel, making it an important technology in the quest for more sustainable aviation and a decarbonised modern world. It currently represents less than 0.1 per cent of jet fuel volumes.

A UK consortium has been collectively working on the 100 per cent SAF transatlantic project, led by Virgin Atlantic and jointly funded by the Department for Transport. Other stakeholders include Rolls-Royce, Boeing, the University of Sheffield, Imperial College London, and Rocky Mountain Institute.

Virgin Atlantic - SAF Flight Engine Test

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, commented: “The 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel transatlantic flight will be a historic moment in aviation’s roadmap to decarbonisation. Alongside fleet transformation, SAF is the most readily available way for our industry to decarbonise, but currently there’s not enough supply and without it and the radical collaboration required to produce it, we can’t meet our 2030 targets. We need UK government support to create a UK SAF industry to allow for every single flight out of the UK to operate with 100% SAF — if we make it, we can fly it.”

Air bp and Virent were announced as suppliers for the project, contributing 60 tonnes of SAF.

Share this article