The world’s first net-zero transatlantic flight is expected to take to the skies next year.
The demonstration flight will use an aircraft powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps challenged airline executives to work with the government to deliver the flight next year to pave the way for transatlantic flights to be powered solely by low-carbon fuel.
It is hoped many more flights could starting using SAF, which the government said has the potential to “deliver significant carbon savings, improve domestic fuel security, support thousands of green jobs and put flying on a more sustainable path”.
It is estimated the SAF industry in the UK could support up to 5,200 jobs directly, as well as 13,600 through global exports, with an annual turnover as high as £2.3bn by 2040.
The fuel is made from waste materials such as household waste or used cooking oil. It offers greenhouse gas emissions savings of more than 70% compared to conventional fossil jet fuel when fully replacing kerosene.
When combined with greenhouse gas removals, using 100% SAF results in a net-zero flight.
Mr 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.”
UK SAF industry to get £180m of govt funding
Current jet fuel specifications do not allow flights to use 100% SAF, meaning its use must be complemented by additional decarbonisation measures for them to be fully net zero.
The government has said it is committed to accelerating the testing and approval of 100% SAF to unlock the full potential of the technology.
Aviation is one of the highest single emitters of greenhouse gasses.
The government has pledged to support the UK SAF industry with £180m of funding over the next three years.
It is also providing £400m through a government partnership with Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to drive private sector investment into the next generation of green technologies, through which UK SAF projects may seek additional capital.