AirTanker plays leading role in world-first sustainable fuel flight

Category: AirTanker


We, AirTanker, are proud to have played a leading role in achieving this world-first 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel flight on our Voyager A330 MRTT aircraft, working in collaboration with the UK MOD and industry partners: Airbus, Rolls-Royce and AirBP.

As an airline and aviation service provider, we are acutely aware of the impact aviation has on the environment. Therefore, we are keen to support innovation and continue to look at all opportunities in which we can make improvements to support a more sustainable future. We are committed to supporting the RAF’s mission of being NetZero by 2040, and this flight marks a significant step forward towards this important milestone.

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Aircraft ZZ334 departed RAF Brize Norton on Wednesday 16 November 2022, powered completely by 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). This aircraft carried out a 90-minute flight replicating a typical Air Transport operation to demonstrate the potential operational use of sustainable fuel. This flight marks three world-first achievements; the first time 100% SAF has been used to operate a flight within the UK, the first 100% SAF flight for an Airbus A330, and the first 100% SAF flight on a military wide-bodied aircraft.

To achieve this capability, AirTanker led and coordinated a trial programme, hosting and bringing together the collaborative efforts of an expert trials team which included Airbus, Rolls-Royce and RAF test pilots and engineers from No. 206 Squadron. Our skilled team including our expert engineers carried out aircraft preparation, provided technical support throughout and conducted all pre-trial and post-trial maintenance on the aircraft.

The success of this trial is testament to the collaboration of AirTanker, the RAF, and all partners involved and we look forward to working on further sustainable opportunities in the future.

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Image: Crown Copyright

CEO, AirTanker said:

“We are committed to identifying opportunities to improve our impact on the environment and we are delighted to have led this project to support the RAF in their mission to become net zero by 2040. Working in collaboration with other industry experts is a fundamental element of our organisation – it’s through these partnerships that real impact can be made to create and enable a sustainable future within aviation.”

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Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said:

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.

“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.”

Sustainable aviation fuel is made from waste products, such as cooking oil or feedstocks and has the potential to reduce carbon emissions associated with flights by up to 80%. By reusing this energy, this can improve operational resilience through reducing the necessity for fuel resupplying.

Defence Minister Baroness Goldie said:

“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 and should be rightly proud of this achievement.

Through the RAF’s pioneering spirit, expertise and collaboration 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.”