first flight powered by cooking oil could take off next year

The new initiative has come out of the Jet Zero Council, a partnership between industry and government set up to see the airline industry deliver net zero emissions by 2050. The Treasury has already provided £ 180 million to support new SAF plants.

Rolls-Royce ‘has technology’

“We now need to turbocharge production in order to build the initial 3 SAF plants by 2025,” said Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK. The Government has set a target for airlines to be using 10 per cent SAF by 2030.

Rolls-Royce, which has already successfully tested its large commercial aero engines on 100 per cent SAF, said Mr Shapps’ proposal was an “exciting and ambitious challenge”.

“We have the technology to help the UK Government achieve its objectives and we look forward to working closely with them to deliver this milestone transatlantic flight,” said Warren East, chief executive of Rolls-Royce.

“Just over 100 years ago, Rolls-Royce powered the first transatlantic flight and now we have the innovation and expertise to power the next generation of sustainable aircraft.”

Airlines are being invited to register their interest by June 12. Those chosen will need to submit a full application to get up to £ 1 million backing from the Department for Transport to support testing, research and staffing costs.

Grant Shapps: enter my historic challenge to the aviation industry with this competition

A bagel and fresh orange juice for breakfast. A trip to the top of the Empire State and a visit to Times Square. These are just a few staples of the New York experience which, for more than 80 years, fortunate UK travelers have been able to experience thanks to the modern wonder of a transatlantic flight.

It was a sorely missed connection during the pandemic. Now the optimistic return of international travel is seeing this highly popular route bounce back, reconnecting families and friends; for businesses, replacing countless Zoom meetings with physical handshakes “across the pond”.

I was able to make that trip across the Atlantic this week, becoming the first minister to have a face-to-face meeting with my U.S. counterpart, Pete Buttigieg, since he became U.S. secretary of state for transportation under President Biden.

And what a boon for our two great nations this route has been, cementing our special relationship as we’ve faced up to international challenges, solidifying our shared unity and respect for democracy.

Costs of modern travel

However, for all its benefits, we must acknowledge the environmental costs of this modern travel. Aviation contributes around two to three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions today and it is forecast to become the second-highest emitter in 2050 if left unchecked. Something has to change.

That’s why I am pleased to issue a historic challenge to the aviation industry to achieve the first ever transatlantic flight to be powered by 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel.

These fuels can be made from wastes including domestic and commercial black bag rubbish and flue gases, and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70 percent savings compared to conventional kerosene.

We must act now to ensure that flying, so crucial to global connectivity in our fast-paced world, can continue without defeating our ambitions for tackling climate change. That’s why, as passenger demand and the aviation industry continue to rebound after the pandemic, we’re not just going back to pre-pandemic normal.

Instead I am committed to building a world-leading sustainable aviation fuel industry in the UK, improving fuel security and delivering thousands of green jobs across the UK in the process.

It may sound as simple as filling the tank with a different kind of fuel, but there are significant challenges that government, industry and academics have spent the past few years working on together. When the Prime Minister and I launched the Jet Zero Council two years ago we set out our plans to turbocharge a green aviation revolution in the UK.

Jet fuel specifications

The world’s first net zero transatlantic flight is our first staging post – a key milestone on our journey to greater sustainable aviation fuels use. Now that challenge is ready to be realized. But not until we have worked out how to overcome a series of barriers, from the high costs of sustainable aviation fuel production to current jet fuel specifications, distribution and much else besides.

More research and demonstrations are required before we can use 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel on a plane. That’s exactly what this competition, backed by £ 1 million in funding, hopes to achieve. And by working with industry we can unlock the full potential of greener fuels.

As a sign of international unity, this competition will be open to the entire aviation industry and I welcome submissions from any airline who thinks they can deliver this, alone or with partners, no matter where they are based.

This is the beginning of a new, more sustainable era in the long and proud history of commercial air flight between Britain and America, with the ingenuity and investment in place to make guilt-free flying a reality in coming decades.

Thanks to this competition, flying to the Big Apple will never have been greener.

Grant Shapps is Transport Secretary


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