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Revolutionary Move: Royal Air Force Takes Bold Step Toward Greener Aviation with SAF Mid-Air Refueling

The Voyager air-to-air refuelling flight completed by the Royal Air Force (RAF) was powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), made from sustainable feedstocks such as used cooking oil, reducing carbon emissions by up to 80% compared to traditional jet fuel.

The Voyager aircraft conducted air-to-air refuelling with Typhoons during the training exercise from RAF Brize Norton, over the North Sea and via Farnborough. This is a significant achievement for the RAF, which has been working towards a sustainable aviation future, including the world’s first RAF Voyager flight fuelled by 100% SAF. The UK aviation industry’s updated aviation Net Zero Carbon roadmap was published during the Sustainable Skies World Summit, a two-day industry-led conference.

The Defence Minister, Baroness Goldie, welcomed the RAF’s efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and global supply chains, while Air Vice-Marshal, Paul Lloyd, noted that the benefits of SAF outweigh the challenges of transitioning away from traditional supply chains and fossil fuels. The Voyager flight was part of the RAF’s task to gather data to inform the transition away from fossil fuels, with SAF identified as critical for the future operational capability of the RAF and wider military aviation. The UK’s SAF programme supports the country’s vision to be a global leader in the development, production, and use of SAF, providing opportunities for economic growth and prosperity across the country.

The Voyager aircraft has a payload of 43 tonnes of freight and 291 seat passenger capacity, as well as an aeromedical evacuation capability, delivering flexibility in air mobility to the UK Armed forces. The Jet Zero Council, a partnership between industry and government aimed at delivering at least 10% SAF in the UK fuel mix by 2030, will also meet during the Sustainable Skies World Summit to drive the delivery of new technologies and innovative ways to cut aviation emissions.

The SAF for the flight was sourced by International Airlines Group (IAG) and supplied by bp.

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