Virgin 747 tailfin

First commercial fuel-from-waste flight lands in London with Virgin Atlantic

Image credit: Virgin Atlantic

The world’s first commercial flight powered partly by a new form of biofuel produced from alcohol has been flown to and landed in London.

Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 747 used a blend of conventional jet fuel and a biofuel made from industrial waste gases converted into ethanol.

The airline’s founder, Sir Richard Branson, was on hand to help guide the aircraft towards a standstill once it touched down at London Gatwick, following its flight from Orlando, Florida, USA.

Branson said: “Long-haul travel is more important than ever for connecting people around the world. It’s our responsibility to ensure we’re doing that in the most sustainable way possible.”

The firm that produces the fuel blend, LanzaTech, believes it has the potential to meet around a fifth of the current commercial global aviation fuel demand.

LanzaTech says it delivers a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of “at least 65 per cent” compared with conventional petroleum fuel.

Virgin Atlantic is calling on the government to commit to supporting LanzaTech’s bid to open three UK plants by 2025, producing up to 125 million gallons of “sustainable fuel” per year.

Branson continued: “Working with LanzaTech will enable us to drastically reduce our carbon emissions and at the same time help support UK industry.

“That’s why we’re so excited to showcase this fuel on its first commercial flight as we plan for the world’s first full-scale jet fuel plant using this amazing new technology.”

LanzaTech chief executive Jennifer Holmgren said: “We have shown that recycling waste carbon emissions into jet fuel is not impossible, that waste carbon needs to be thought as an opportunity not a liability, that carbon can be reused over and over again.”

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