Virgin Atlantic Gets UK Approval for 100% SAF Transatlantic Flight

Virgin Atlantic is set to make history by operating the first-ever flight from London to New York using only sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on November 28. This follows the UK's Civil Aviation Authority's approval, marking a significant step in the airline industry's efforts to reduce carbon emissions. 


SAF, derived from waste like cooking oils, can cut emissions by up to 70% compared to conventional fuels. Until now, SAF has been used in combination with traditional kerosene to power jet engines. The approval came after the UK regulator conducted several technical reviews, including successful ground tests of the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine that powers Virgin's 787 aircraft. 

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However, Virgin still needs approval from regulators in the US, Ireland, and Canada for the flight. Despite accounting for only 0.5% of aviation fuel in 2021, many airlines aim to increase this to 10% by 2030, with the industry's "net zero" emissions goal by 2050 relying on SAF making up 65% of fuel. 

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Virgin hopes this flight will underscore the need to make SAF more accessible, as it is currently produced in limited quantities and costs three to five times more than regular jet fuel.

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