British Airbus A330 Military Variant Completes World-First Sustainable Fuel Military Transporter Flight

  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 01:03 PM, November 19, 2022
  • 1181
British Airbus A330 Military Variant Completes World-First Sustainable Fuel Military Transporter Flight

The Royal Air Force and industry partners have carried out a world-first 100% sustainable fuel flight using a military aircraft, the defence ministry announced Friday.

An RAF Voyager – the military variant of an Airbus A330 – took to the skies over Oxfordshire powered entirely by 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The flight, which took place on November 16, was a joint endeavour between the RAF, DE&S and industry partners Airbus, AirTanker and Rolls-Royce, with the fuel supplied by Air bp.

SAF – which is made from waste-based sustainable feedstocks, such as used cooking oil – reduces lifecycle carbon emissions on average by up to 80% compared to the conventional jet fuel it replaces.

This success follows last November’s small aircraft UK flight powered by 15 litres of synthetic gasoline – another world-first led by the RAF. Synthetic fuel is made from water and carbon dioxide, which is then put under pressure and an electric current run through it.

Wednesday’s 90-minute flight from RAF Brize Norton, flown by a combined RAF, Rolls-Royce and Airbus flight test crew, replicated an air-to-air refuelling sortie and was witnessed by senior RAF and industry representatives. It demonstrated the RAF’s potential for its future operational capability, ensuring the ability to contribute to UK defence wherever and whenever required.

“Climate change is a transnational challenge that threatens our resilience, our security and our collective prosperity. That is why I have set the RAF the ambitious challenge of becoming the world’s first net-zero Air Force by 2040. The way we power our aircraft will be key to meeting that challenge and the RAF is already thinking about how we will operate beyond fossil fuels,” Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said.

This exciting trial flight of a Voyager from RAF Brize Norton powered entirely by Sustainable Aviation Fuel is an important milestone on that journey, and marks another technological first for the RAF alongside our industry partners.

Engineers from Airbus’ Commercial Aircraft and Defence and Space divisions have been working with the RAF, Rolls-Royce and Airtanker testing the aircraft’s performance and handling on the ground and in the air in preparation for the final flight with both engines powered by 100% SAF.

The UK has launched the £165 million Advanced Fuels Fund to kickstart a homegrown SAF industry, as well as challenging the sector to deliver the first net zero transatlantic flight next year.

This 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.

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