Ambitions set for first net-zero transatlantic flight in 2030

During his visit to the US, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced these plans for a demonstrative flight as he met with airline executives.

These plans align with ambitions of the Jet Zero Council, a partnership between industry and government to make net-zero flight a reality.

It’s estimated that a sustainable aviation fuel industry could create 5,200 jobs in the UK and a further 13,600 through global exports.

Approximately an annual turnover of £2.3bn could be reached by 2040, according to industry experts.

white airplanes at airport during daytime

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.’

Current plans focus on using fuel made from waste materials, including used cooking oil, which offer carbon emissions savings of more than 70%.

Further emissions can be removed, creating a 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) which is not currently allowed on flights.

The UK government says it’s committed to exploring further decarbonisation measures to make the fuel net-zero and accelerating the testing and approval of it.

An SAF mandate is being investigated and the government has committed £180m to the UK SAF industry over the next three years, to go towards building SAF plants and testing clearing houses.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: ‘UK airlines strongly support the development of a UK SAF industry, which will play a vital role in helping our sector deliver net zero emissions by 2050, as we are committed to doing.

‘We now need to turbocharge production in order to build the initial 3 SAF plants by 2025 and UK airlines have shown real commitment to making this happen with our partnerships with Philipps 66, Velocys and LanzaTech.

‘We look forward to working with ministers through the Jet Zero Council to continue to explore mechanisms to attract the required private investment – in addition to a planned mandate – so we can help deliver the government’s 10% SAF uptake goal by 2030.’

In related news, aviation experts and government have formed a new group to work on advancing hydrogen and battery powered planes. 

Photo by Christian Lambert


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