The UK Government has pledged to deliver the world’s first transatlantic flight powered solely by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by the end of 2023.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the pioneering test flight will be supported by a £1 million competition that will back the testing, research and personnel costs and get a commercial aircraft from London to New York at net zero.
Interested airlines, fuel producers, aircraft or engine manufacturers and fuel suppliers are invited to complete an initial expression of interest for the Jet Zero Challenge by 12th June 2022.
The transatlantic flight will help gather the data needed to support ongoing and future work to test and certify SAF while exploring how engine efficiency improvements, flight optimisation and greenhouse gas removals can contribute to achieving net zero flights.
— Department for Transport (@transportgovuk) May 14, 2022
The announcement underlines the government’s commitment to drive forward the SAF industry, which has the potential to delivery significant carbon savings, improve domestic fuel security and support thousands of green jobs.
Industry estimates suggest an SAF industry in the UK could support up to 5,200 jobs directly as well as an additional 13,600 jobs through global exports.
SAFs are made from waste materials such as household waste or used cooking oil and offers greenhouse gas emissions savings of more than 70% compared to conventional fossil fuel when fully replacing kerosene.
When combined with greenhouse gas removals, 100% SAF will enable the delivery of a net zero flight.
Current jet fuel specifications do not allow flights to use 100% SAF, meaning SAF use needs to be complemented by additional decarbonisation measures to be fully net zero.
The government has committed to accelerate the testing and approval of 100% SAF to unlock the full decarbonisation potential of this technology.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: This trailblazing net zero emissions flight, a world first, will demonstrate the vital role that sustainable aviation fuel can play in decarbonising aviation in line with our ambitious net zero targets.
“That’s not just great news for the environment, it’s great news for passengers who will be able to visit the Big Apple without increasing damaging greenhouse gas emissions.
“It’s crucial that we place sustainability at the heart of the aviation industry’s recovery from COVID-19 and I look forward to working with them on this challenge, which will lower the impact flying across the Atlantic has on the planet.”