In an unprecedented achievement for sustainable aviation, the pioneering journey of the inaugural transatlantic flight powered solely by 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) commenced from Heathrow Airport on Tuesday, November 28. Departing shortly before midnight, the Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner embarked on its historic voyage to New York JFK.
Among the notable passengers on board were Sir Richard Branson, the visionary founder of Virgin Atlantic, and Mark Harper, the transport secretary. However, the journey notably lacked paying passengers, marking a symbolic yet groundbreaking flight in aviation history.
SAFs, derived from renewable biomass and waste materials, constitute an environmentally conscious alternative for jet fuel, with the capacity to be utilized in modern aircraft up to a maximum of 50% when blended with kerosene.
Embracing the spirit of innovation, Sir Richard Branson remarked before the flight, "The world will always assume something can't be done until you do it. The spirit of innovation is getting out there and trying to prove that we can do things better for everyone's benefit."
Celebrating this monumental achievement, Virgin Atlantic shared a video documenting this pioneering transatlantic flight. In their caption, the airline highlighted, "History at 38,000ft. Virgin Atlantic is currently flying the world's first 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel flight across the Atlantic by a commercial airline. Flight100 marks the culmination of more than a year of radical cross-industry collaboration to see this take to the skies."
istory at 38,000ft. Virgin Atlantic is currently flying the world's first 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel flight across the Atlantic by a commercial airline. Flight100 marks the culmination of more than a year of radical cross industry collaboration to see this take to the skies. pic.twitter.com/97mLaa4hoj
— virginatlantic (@VirginAtlantic) November 28, 2023
The flight's significance resonated with the UK government, marking a significant stride towards achieving environmentally friendly air travel, aligning with the global objective of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
Last December, the UK government pledged support of up to $1.26 million towards the project, led by Virgin in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, Boeing, the US aircraft manufacturer, and Rolls-Royce, the British engine manufacturer, as reported by AFP. Speaking ahead of take-off, British Transport Secretary Mark Harper affirmed the government's commitment: "We will continue to support the UK's emerging SAF industry as it creates jobs, grows the economy, and leads us to Jet Zero."
This historic flight not only symbolizes a technological leap but also represents a collaborative effort driving the aviation industry towards a more sustainable future, redefining the possibilities of environmentally responsible air travel.