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Virgin Atlantic Flies Commercial Airliner London-to-New York on 100% SAF

British airline Virgin Atlantic flew one of its commercial airliners from
London to New York on Tuesday using 100% sustainable aviation fuel, the company
said Tuesday.
The airline flew a Boeing 787 Dreamliner powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000
engines from Heathrow Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport,
according to a news release. Virgin said its flight marked the first time a
commercial jet had flown across the Atlantic Ocean on unblended SAF.
The flight burned a dual SAF blend, 88% of which was made by Air BP using waste
fats. The remaining 12% was made from plant sugars and was supplied by Virent,
a subsidiary of U.S. refiner Marathon Petroleum, according to Virgin Atlantic.
The type of SAF produced by Virent is classified as synthetic aromatic
kerosene, which is “needed in 100% SAF blends to give the fuel the required
aromatics for engine function,” the airline said.
Shai Weiss, chief executive officer of Virgin Atlantic, said the trans-Atlantic
flight proved SAF’s viability as a drop-in replacement for conventional
fossil-based jet fuel.
“[SAF is] the only viable solution for decarbonizing long-haul aviation,” Weiss
said in a news release. “It’s taken radical collaboration to get here, and
we’re proud to have reached this important milestone, but we need to push
There is “simply not enough SAF” available for end users, Weiss said, adding
that significantly more investment and government-backed “regulatory certainty
and price support mechanisms” are needed for SAF production to scale up.
A week ago, U.S. business jet manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. said it
operated the world’s first trans-Atlantic flight using unblended SAF. The
company on Nov. 19 flew a smaller plane — one of its G600 aircraft — from its
headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, to Farnborough Airport near London,
according to a news release.
Gulfstream said its SAF was made by Boston-based biofuel producer World Energy,
which used waste fats as feedstock.