Virgin Atlantic Plans World's First Transatlantic Flight Using 100% SAF

Virgin Atlantic (VS) has pencilled in a date for the world's first 100% SAF-powered flight.



July 20, 2023

DALLAS - Virgin Atlantic (VS) has revealed plans to operate the world's first transatlantic flight using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The flight from London Heathrow (LHR) to New York (JFK) is planned for November 28, 2023, subject to regulatory approvals.

The move comes after the airline completed ground tests with Rolls-Royce on one of the carrier's Boeing 787-9 Trent 1000 engines. These tests saw a SAF blend of 88% Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA) and 12% synthetic aromatic kerosene (SAK) SAF. The fuel for the historic flight will be supplied by Air bp and Virent.

Currently, flights are limited to a 50% maximum blend of SAF with 50% conventional fuel. VS has led a consortium that includes Rolls-Royce, Boeing, the University of Sheffield, Imperial College London and Rocky Mountain Institute in producing SAF to power a full transatlantic flight. The project is joint-funded by the Department for Transport.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic.

"A Historic Moment"

Shai Weiss, CEO of VS, 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."

Rob Watson, President – Civil Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, added, "We are incredibly proud that our Trent 1000 engines will power the first ever flight using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel across the Atlantic.

"Confirming that we have successfully completed the ground test of the Trent 1000 engine today, using the chosen 100% SAF blend, gives us increased confidence for the engine's performance and operation ahead of the flight this November. The flight will represent an incredible milestone for the entire aviation industry in its journey towards net zero carbon emissions."

Featured Image: G-VMAP Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner B789 JFK KFJK. Photo: Francesco Cecchetti/Airways.