Virgin Atlantic has been awarded a permit to fly the world’s first transatlantic 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) flight.

The permit was granted by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) following a programme of technical reviews, including ground testing with Rolls Royce on a Trent 1000 engine running on 100% SAF.

The airline will fly from London Heathrow to New York JFK on 28 November 2023 to test and showcase the feasibility of flying on 100% SAF.

Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, commented, “The Civil Aviation Authority’s permit to fly Flight100 marks a key milestone and a huge achievement for all the teams working towards this historic flight. Getting to this point has been more than a year in the making and taken radical collaboration across our consortium partners and government. We’re committed to using 10% SAF by 2030, but to get there we need the government to support the creation of a UK SAF industry. We know that if we can make it, we can fly it.”

Led by Virgin Atlantic and partly funded by Department for Transport, preparation for the flight has involved a consortium of companies including Boeing, Rolls-Royce and BP to demonstrate SAF as an alternative to regular jet fuel.

Rob Bishton, chief executive at the UK CAA, said, “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.

“This permit not only allows Virgin Atlantic and others to showcase their commitment to sustainability, but also serves as an example of how the industry is always exploring new technologies.

“Innovation and sustainability are vital areas of work, but they must go hand in hand with safety. This is a reminder that together we can drive change, reduce emissions, and make the skies greener for generations to come.”

The Permit forms one of the approvals required for the flight and paves the way for Virgin Atlantic to submit applications to Federal Aviation Administration, Irish Aviation Authority, and Transport Canada to allow the flight to travel through US, Irish and Canadian airspace.

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