A UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Voyager, the military equivalent of an Airbus A330, took to the skies over Oxfordshire powered entirely by 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). RAF hopes that SAF will help it reach net zero by 2040 and reduce its reliance on global supply chains.
The historic flight took place last week when an RAF Voyager conducted a 90-minute return flight over Oxfordshire. It was also the first time a military aircraft of such size has used a fully sustainable fuel, which was supplied by Air BP.
The flight from RAF Brize Norton was flown by a combined RAF, Rolls-Royce, and Airbus flight test crew. According to Airbus, the flight replicated an air-to-air refueling sortie.
The RAF said sustainable aviation fuel – which is made from waste-based sustainable feedstocks, such as used cooking oil – reduces lifecycle carbon emissions by up to 80% compared to the conventional jet fuel it replaces. It also lessens the RAF’s reliance on global supply chains and improves operational resilience.
“The Royal Air Force has flown the UK’s first military air transport flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel on one of their operational Voyager aircraft. They should be rightly proud of this achievement; it is a breakthrough moment for the RAF and an exciting development for the MOD,” said Defence Minister Baroness Goldie. “Through the RAF’s pioneering spirit, expertise, and partnership with UK industry, British science, and engineering is leading the way in improving operational resilience and developing future operating capability in a climate-changed world.”
This breakthrough test flight is just one of the ways the RAF is actively working to reduce lifecycle carbon emissions produced by flying its aircraft. Other innovations have included a world-first, record-breaking microlight flight using synthetic fuel, flying an electric aircraft at RAF Cranwell, and creating fuel from genetically modified bacteria.