Virgin Atlantic's 787 Dreamliner - Similar to the one flown from London to New York or 100% Fully Sustainable Fuel (Virgin Group)
Virgin Atlantic's 787 Dreamliner - Similar to the one flown from London to New York or 100% Fully Sustainable Fuel (Virgin Group)
2 min read

Marking the culmination of a year of radical collaboration, Virgin Atlantic has flown a Boeing 787 from London Heathrow to New York JFK on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) to demonstrate the capability of SAF as a safe drop-in replacement for fossil-derived jet fuel.

The historic flight is now set to play a significant role in the decarbonisation of long-haul aviation, and the pathway to Net Zero 2050 in the UK.

While other technologies such as electric and hydrogen remain decades away, Flight100 proved that the challenge of scaling up production is one of policy and investment, and industry and government must move quickly to create a thriving SAF industry.


Shai Weiss, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Atlantic said flight100 proved that Sustainable Aviation Fuel can be used as a safe, drop-in replacement for fossil-derived jet fuel and it’s the only viable solution for decarbonising long haul aviation.

“It’s taken radical collaboration to get here and we’re proud to have reached this important milestone, but we need to push further,” Weiss said.

“There’s simply not enough SAF and it’s clear that in order to reach production at scale, we need to see significantly more investment. This will only happen when regulatory certainty and price support mechanisms, backed by Government, are in place. Flight100 proves that if you make it, we’ll fly it.”

The SAF used on Flight100 is a unique dual blend; 88% HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids) supplied by AirBP and 12% SAK (Synthetic Aromatic Kerosene) supplied by Virent, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corporation. The HEFA is made from waste fats while the SAK is made from plant sugars, with the remainder of plant proteins, oil and fibres continuing into the food chain. SAK is needed in 100% SAF blends to give the fuel the required aromatics for engine function.

To achieve Net Zero 2050, the innovation and investment needed across all available feedstocks and technologies must be harnessed to maximise SAF volumes as well as continuing the research and development needed to bring new zero-emission aircraft to market.

Richard Branson wears rainbow flag pin into space (Youtube)
Richard Branson wears rainbow flag pin into space (Youtube)

Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Atlantic said the world will always assume something can’t be done, until you do it.

“The spirit of innovation is getting out there and trying to prove that we can do things better for everyone’s benefit,” Sir Branson said.

“Virgin Atlantic has been challenging the status quo and pushing the aviation industry to never settle and do better since 1984. Fast forward nearly 40 years, that pioneering spirit continues to be Virgin Atlantic’s beating heart as it pushes the boundaries from carbon fibre aircraft and fleet upgrades to sustainable fuels.

“I couldn’t be prouder to be onboard Flight100 today 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.”

Last Updated on Nov 30, 2023

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