The UK Ministry of Defense stated that the Royal Air Force (RAF) has conducted a 100% sustainable fuel (SAF) flight using an Airbus A330 Voyager. The 90-minute flight was the first for any aircraft type in the UK to use 100 percent SAF on all engines on a military aircraft of its size.
Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is viewed as one of the most important methods for decarbonizing the aviation industry, which is responsible for 2 to 3 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Typically, SAF is created from renewable resources, such as waste oils and agricultural wastes. SAF producers predict that the fuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional fuels.
The SAF-powered flight follows the July unveiling of "Jet Zero," the UK government's ambition to achieve net zero aviation by 2050, with the acceleration of SAF demand and supply recognized as a key priority. This year, the government made a commitment to deliver the first transatlantic flight with net-zero emissions, powered by 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel by the end of 2023, and outlined a series of initiatives to address barriers to greater SAF use, such as high fuel production costs, the need for significant investment to scale infrastructure and production, and feedstock availability.
The aviation minister at the Department of Transport, Baroness Vere, stated:
"Our Jet Zero Strategy made it abundantly evident that sustainable aviation fuels are essential to greener flight for both military and commercial aircraft. This is a victory for the environment and a tribute to British innovation."
The flight represents the latest in a series of achievements for sustainable aviation fuel. United Airlines reported the completion of the first-ever passenger flight with a 100% SAF-powered engine late last year, and in June 2022, Neste, ATR, and Braathens Regional Airlines announced the completion of the first-ever 100% SAF-powered test flight on a commercial regional aircraft.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the trip was a collaboration between the RAF, the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) agency, and industry partners Airbus, AirTanker, and Rolls-Royce, with Air bp providing the fuel.
UK Defence Minister Baroness Goldie said:
British science and engineering are leading the way in enhancing operational resilience and building future operating capabilities in a climate-changed world due to the RAF's pioneering spirit, expertise, and engagement with UK industry.