Sustainable Aviation Fuels are seen as the important thing device to decarbonise the aviation sector
LONDON – British airline Virgin Atlantic on Tuesday piloted the first long-haul flight powered completely by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), an occasion environmental teams have dubbed a “inexperienced push”.
The Rolls-Royce-engined Boeing 787 departed London’s Heathrow airport shortly earlier than 1200 GMT, headed for New York’s JFK minus cargo and paying passengers.
“The world will all the time assume that one thing cannot be executed till you do it,” Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson mentioned earlier than boarding the flight.
“The spirit of innovation goes on the market and making an attempt to show that we will do issues higher for the advantage of everybody.”
Virgin mentioned it was the first time SAF had been used “in each engines, by a business airline, for a long-haul flight”.
SAFs are produced from renewable biomass and waste assets and can be utilized in jet fuel in trendy plane to a most of fifty %, after mixing with kerosene.
They are seen as the primary device for decarbonising the aviation sector within the coming years, however the expertise remains to be in its infancy and manufacturing remains to be very costly.
Also, they’re utilized in combustion engines that also generate carbon dioxide.
Decarbonisation happens additional upstream by reusing plant materials as an alternative of extracting hydrocarbons.
– ‘Zero Jet’ –
The UK authorities introduced final December that it was offering as much as 1 million kilos sterling ($1.26 million) in assist of the venture, led by Virgin in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, the plane producer within the States United Boeing and British engine producer Rolls-Royce.
Speaking earlier than take-off, British Transport Secretary Mark Harper mentioned the federal government will “proceed to assist the UK’s rising SAF business because it creates jobs, grows the financial system and we are going to succeed Jet Zero”.
The environmental group Stay Grounded described Tuesday’s flight as “greening” – a time period used for firms that use misleading claims to persuade the general public that their merchandise or operations are environmentally pleasant.
“Although the general public focus is on the green-like flight, there are 100,000 each day flights utilizing fossil fuels,” mentioned Magdalena Heuwieser, from the Stay Grounded community.
Finlay Asher, an aerospace engineer who labored for Rolls-Royce, was quoted by Stay Grounded as saying that the manufacturing course of was a “technological lifeless finish” that “can’t be scaled sustainably past a number of % of present jet fuel utilization “.
Greenpeace additionally condemned the occasion.
“The two potential sources of actually sustainable aviation fuel are restricted in scale,” mentioned Greenpeace chief scientist Doug Parr.
“The waste used as a feedstock for the bio-kerosene on this flight shouldn’t be obtainable in giant sufficient portions to have a serious impression on aviation emissions.
“And the CO2 from Direct Air Capture and inexperienced hydrogen from electrolysis – each used to make e-kerosene – are very costly to provide.”
Parr added that “the one efficient method to deal with aviation emissions within the brief time period is to deal with demand, and there’s no different proposal however pie within the sky”.
The flight comes two days earlier than the United Nations COP28 local weather negotiations in Dubai, the place the way forward for fossil fuels might be closely mentioned.