Special aviation fuel

British Airways operates first carbon neutral flight

The carbon neutral Airbus plane

A British Airways passenger flight has used sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for the first time.

The airline said the flight on Tuesday from London Heathrow to Glasgow also involved air traffic service provider NATS, fuel giant BP and Airbus.

The short journey on the airline’s new special liveried sustainability aircraft replicated a flight British Airways operated to Edinburgh in 2010.

At the time, neither offsetting nor sustainable aviation fuel were available to reduce the flight’s impact on the environment, and the journey was operated on an older aircraft carrying fewer passengers.  

The aim of this week’s flight was to show how far the aviation industry has progressed in its efforts to decarbonise over the last decade.

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The flight was operated by an Airbus A320neo, the quietest and most fuel-efficient short-haul aircraft currently in British Airways’ fleet. Thanks to advances in engines, aerodynamics, cabin and flight operations, A320neos burn 20% less fuel, which means 20% less CO2, and are 50% quieter compared to its predecessor which operated the flight in 2010. 

Since then, British Airways has made changes including installing newer, lighter seats on the new aircraft, lighter catering trollies and has replaced heavy flight manuals and inflight magazines with digital downloads, all helping to reduce the weight of the aircraft, contributing to lower fuel use and lower emissions.

The flight was directly powered by sustainable aviation fuel, provided by bp, blended at 35% with traditional jet fuel in accordance with technical aviation specifications.

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