The world’s first net zero emissions transatlantic flight could be delivered by the UK government and industry as early as next year, ushering in what the Department for Transport is calling ‘a new era of guilt-free flying’ over the coming decades.
The flight, on an aircraft powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel, is expected to take off in 2023.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the challenge to industry during his visit to the US. Meeting with airline executives, he invited the international sector to work closely with the UK government to deliver the demonstrator flight in 2023, paving the way for flights on the transatlantic route (and others) to be powered solely by low-carbon fuel.
Today’s announcement underlines the government’s commitment to advance the sustainable aviation fuel industry, which it says 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.
Industry estimates suggest that a UK sustainable aviation fuel industry could support up to 5,200 UK jobs directly, as well as a further 13,600 through global exports – helping to level up the UK and boost the economy.
The industry estimates its annual turnover could reach £2.3bn by 2040.
The new initiative has come out of the Jet Zero Council, a partnership between industry and government that aims to deliver new technologies and innovative ways to cut aviation emissions while supporting the UK economy.
‘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.’
Net zero aviation
Today’s announcement is an important part of plans to reduce emissions from aviation to net zero.
Currently one of the highest single emitters of greenhouse gases, aviation is one of our biggest challenges when it comes to making transport green.
The fuel, made from waste materials such as household waste or used cooking oil, offers greenhouse gas emissions savings of more than 70% compared with conventional fossil jet fuel, (when fully replacing kerosene). When combined with greenhouse gas removals, 100% SAF will enable the delivery of a net zero flight.