If three other countries agree, a Virgin Atlantic flight will cross the pond from Heathrow to JFK using only sustainable aviation fuel on Nov. 28. The U.K.’s Civil Aviation Administration has approved the flight, citing numerous tests and studies that indicate SAF is a safe and more climate-friendly alternative to Jet A. “As the UK’s aviation regulator, it’s important that we safely enable the industry to embrace more sustainable practices and push the boundaries of what’s possible to create a greener aviation industry,” CAA chief executive Rob Bishton said.
The airline will use a Boeing 787 powered by Trent 1000 engines on the flight and the CAA spent a month running SAF on a testbed engine. The CAA is also partially funding the program. For the flight to proceed, the CAA and Virgin have to convince Ireland, Canada and the U.S., all of which will host the Dreamliner in their airspace, that the flight will be safe. Current rules allow a maximum 50/50 mix of SAF and jet fuel for commercial flights and specific permission to waive that requirement will be necessary. Virgin Atlantic CEO Simon Weiss says he has no doubts that SAF will be successful and urged the government to foster the development of an SAF supply chain in the U.K. “We know that if we can make it, we can fly it,” Weiss told a news conference on Monday.
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