The British aviation industry has come together to operate a net zero flight.
The short flight – British Airways BA1476 from London Heathrow to Glasgow Airport – was powered directly by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), provided by BP.
It was blended at 35 per cent with traditional jet fuel in accordance with technical aviation specifications.
The remaining emissions produced by the flight were offset.
The aim of the flight was to show how far the aviation industry has progressed in its efforts to decarbonise over the last decade.
Several factors within the journey were calibrated to achieve minimal emissions – from British Airways’ Airbus aircraft being pushed back by electric Mototok vehicles powered by Heathrow’s supply of 100 per cent renewable electricity, to flying on the most direct routing and optimal flight level.
The flight was operated by an Airbus A320neo, the quietest and most fuel-efficient short-haul aircraft currently in British Airways’ fleet.
Air traffic controllers at NATS directed the aircraft on its continuous climb from Heathrow and descent into Glasgow, avoiding any levelling off, which causes an increase in fuel burn.
The most direct routing was provided by NATS as well as the most optimal flight level and the aircraft was able to land without airborne holding; techniques that successfully saved fuel and reduced emissions.
The flight achieved a 62 per cent CO2 emissions reduction compared to a decade ago – 34 per cent from efficient aircraft and operations, 28 per cent from the use of sustainable aviation fuel and the remaining 38 per cent offset using high quality, verified carbon offsets.
This move towards the ‘perfect flight’ showcases a number of the solutions that can help to reduce emissions associated with flying.
The industry can use sustainable fuels, reduce fuel consumption by using more efficient routes in the air, and utilise electric plug-in power while on the ground to make flights more sustainable.
British Airways chief executive, Sean Doyle, said: “This flight offered a practical demonstration of the progress we’re making in our carbon reduction journey.
“By working together with our industry partners we’ve delivered a 62 per cent improvement in emissions reductions compared to a decade ago.
“This marks real progress in our efforts to decarbonise and shows our determination to continue innovating, working with governments and industry and accelerating the adoption of new low carbon solutions to get us closer still to the perfect flight of the future.”