An RAF Voyager – the military variant of an Airbus A330 – took to the skies over Oxfordshire powered entirely by 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), paving the way for a range of possibilities for the future of flying military and civilian aircraft.
The flight, which took place last Wednesday, was a joint endeavour between the RAF, Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) and industry partners Airbus, AirTanker and Rolls-Royce, with the fuel supplied by Air bp.
Sustainable aviation fuel – which is made from waste-based sustainable feedstocks, such as used cooking oil – reduces lifecycle carbon emissions on average by up to 80 per cent compared to the conventional jet fuel it replaces, lessens the RAF’s reliance on global supply chains, and improves operational resilience.
‘Breakthrough moment for the RAF’
Defence Minister Baroness Goldie said: “The Royal Air Force has flown the UK’s first military air transport flight using 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel on one of their operational Voyager aircraft. They should be rightly proud of this achievement; it is a breakthrough moment for the RAF and an exciting development for the MOD.
“Through the RAF’s pioneering spirit, expertise and partnership with UK industry, British science and engineering is leading the way in improving operational resilience and developing future operating capability in a climate-changed world.”
This success follows last November’s small aircraft UK flight powered by 15 litres of synthetic gasoline – another world-first led by the RAF.
Synthetic fuel is made from water and carbon dioxide, which is then put under pressure and an electric current run through it.
‘Climate change is a transnational challenge’
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said: “Climate change is a transnational challenge that threatens our resilience, our security and our collective prosperity. That is why I have set the RAF the ambitious challenge of becoming the world’s first net-zero Air Force by 2040. The way we power our aircraft will be key to meeting that challenge and the RAF is already thinking about how we will operate beyond fossil fuels.
“This exciting trial flight of a Voyager from RAF Brize Norton powered entirely by Sustainable Aviation Fuel is an important milestone on that journey, and marks another technological first for the RAF alongside our industry partners.”
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