The UK Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) on Monday granted a license for Virgin Atlantic to fly the world’s first transatlantic flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The flight will be operated on November 28 between London (Heathrow) and New York (JFK) airports with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.
The approval comes after several months of ground testing with a turbofan running solely on SAF.
The project brings together not only Virgin but also Rolls-Royce, BP and Boeing and has partial funding from the United Kingdom Department for Transport, which launched the challenge in December 2022.
Virgin Atlantic is still awaiting approval from civil aviation authorities in the United States but also in Canada and Ireland, as the route crosses both countries.
SAF represents less than 0,1% of the volume of aviation fuel
Currently, SAF can be used in a mixture of up to 50% in commercial aircraft engines, but the goal is for flights to be carried out only with sustainable fuel, extracted from renewable sources.
According to research, SAF can reduce life cycle carbon emissions by more than 70% compared to fossil fuels (kerosene).
Despite its partial use being permitted, SAF only represents less than 0.1% of the volume of aviation fuel currently. The production of this type of fuel is still expected to gain scale in the coming years, as its use expands.
The test that will take place in three weeks has even been given a special Virgin Atlantic flight number: VS100.