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Fuelling Virgin Atlantic's 100% SAF transatlantic flight

Release date:
December 2023
Last month saw Virgin Atlantic mark a milestone when it flew the world’s first 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) commercial flight across the Atlantic. We were thrilled to be one of the preferred SAF suppliers for this flight. 


Virgin Atlantic’s historic flight on 100% SAF from London Heathrow to New York JFK took place on Tuesday 28 November, departing the UK capital just before midday. Describing Flight100 as a “radical collaboration”, Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic’s CEO said the flight proved that SAF can be used as a safe, drop-in replacement for fossil-derived jet fuel and is the only viable solution for decarbonising long-haul aviation. Underlining that regulatory certainty and price support mechanisms backed by government are essential to scaling SAF production and supply he added: “Flight100 proves that if you make it, we’ll fly it.” 


The SAF used on the flight was a unique dual blend; 88% Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA) supplied by Air bp and 12% Synthetic Aromatic Kerosene (SAK) supplied by Virent. The HEFA is made from waste fats, while the SAK is made from plant sugars, with the remainder of plant proteins, oils and fibres continuing into the food chain. SAK is needed in 100% SAF blends to give the fuel the required aromatics for engine function. The SAF Air bp supplied delivers lifecycle emissions savings of up to 70% whilst performing like the traditional jet fuel it replaces. 


Federica Berra, senior vice president, Air bp who flew on Flight100 explained: “Air bp is honoured to participate in this first ever 100% SAF fuelled transatlantic flight by a commercial airline, as one of the consortium’s preferred SAF suppliers. This is a milestone moment for aviation and for our industry and helps build evidence for the reliability and safety of using 100% SAF in today’s aircraft.” 


She also underlined that collaboration with industry partners is vital to successfully scale SAF, as is long-term policy support to foster supply and demand. 



“Our expert team has worked for months in preparation for today’s flight, drawing upon their deep knowledge and skills in fuel handling, blending and logistics, overall, ensuring product quality and safety standards have been met.” 



As well as proving the capabilities of SAF, Flight100 will assess how its use affects the flight’s non-carbon emissions with the support of consortium partners ICF, Rocky Mountain Institute, Imperial College London and University of Sheffield. The research will improve scientific understanding of the effects of SAF on contrails and particulates and help to implement contrail forecasts in the flight planning process. 



Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic and also one of the passengers on the flight concluded: “I couldn’t be prouder to be onboard Flight100 alongside the teams at Virgin Atlantic and our partners, which have been working together to set the flight path for the decarbonisation of long-haul aviation.”  



For more information on this flight, please click here.