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Virgin Atlantic’s Milestone: 1st Fossil-Free Transatlantic Flight Cuts Emissions 70%

Dec 11, 2023 | News | 0 comments


In a groundbreaking move towards greener skies, Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 787 soared into the history books on Tuesday, embarking on the world’s maiden 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) flight. Departing from London’s Heathrow and touching down at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, this trailblazing journey symbolizes a significant leap towards sustainable air travel.

First-Ever Fossil Fuel-Free Transatlantic Flight

Notably, the UK’s Transport Secretary, alongside Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Executive Shai Weiss and the airline’s founder, Sir Richard Branson, were onboard for this historic flight. Virgin Atlantic now proudly holds the distinction of being the first commercial airline to cross the Atlantic sans fossil-based jet fuel.

This momentous expedition aligns with global ambitions to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, as emphasized by the UK government. The key to this environmental victory lies in the fuel powering the aircraft – derived from waste fats that don’t find their way into the food chain. Turning waste into jet fuel emerges as an immediate and impactful solution to tackle emissions and contribute to the decarbonization of the skies.

Acknowledging the pivotal role played by the UK government, it awarded Virgin Atlantic a substantial €1 million in funding in December 2022. This financial support aimed to propel the aviation industry toward achieving the first transatlantic flight solely powered by 100% SAF.

Funding facilitated crucial fuel testing, operational delivery, and the accumulation of essential data to expedite SAF approval while enhancing our understanding of its efficiency.

70% Reduction in Emissions Paves the Way for Sustainable Global Travel

SAF boasts an impressive 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to standard jet fuel over its entire life cycle, offering a sustainable avenue for global travel. This achievement takes on added significance as the world gears up for COP28 in Dubai this week, showcasing the UK’s proactive stance in addressing decarbonization challenges within the transportation sector.

The UK government sees this flight as a preview of the future of aviation, echoing the pioneering spirit of John Alcock and Arthur Brown, who undertook the first non-stop transatlantic flight in 1919. Their historic journey paved the way for long-haul air travel, and Tuesday’s milestone signifies the next chapter in the ongoing saga of sustainable and environmentally conscious flight.

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