British Airways operates first sustainable cooking oil fuel flight

Published on : Saturday, September 18, 2021

British Airways

British Airways recently operated its first directly sustainable fuel powered passenger aviation service. The airline reportedly produced 62% less CO2 emissions in a London to Glasgow flight compared to a similar journey a decade ago.

The airline said the combination of the fuel was partly made from recycled cooking oil with optimal flight paths, electrified airport vehicles and its newest plane slashed emissions. It said that it had offset the CO2 produced, making the flight carbon-neutral.

While about 6.4 tons of CO2 were still produced by flight BA1476, the airline mentioned that the flight was intended to demonstrate the progress made by the aviation industry in its attempts to decarbonise ahead of the Cop26 summit. The service was operated by British Airway’s special liveried “sustainability” plane, an Airbus A320neo, the quietest and most fuel-efficient short-haul model.

The fuel was a 35% mix of sustainable fuels (SAFs) from BP, close to the maximum proportion currently permitted and higher than in similar demonstration flights. Further contributions to maximising efficiency came from the air traffic control service Nats, which ensured a direct ascent and descent with no holding time, while Heathrow used vehicles powered by green electricity to push the plane on the ground.

While most of the factors involved in creating the “perfect flight” that British Airways aimed for are not always available and considerable doubts about sustainable air travel and offsetting remained in place, the airline mentioned that it was a glimpse of the future.

The BA 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% improvement in emissions reductions compared to a decade ago.

The carrier mentioned that reduction in emissions compared with a similar London-Edinburgh flight in 2010 was achieved primarily by the more efficient aircraft and operations – a 34% cut. The sustainable fuel, whose “carbon lifecycle emissions” could be up to 80% lower, contributed a 28% reduction.

The remaining 38%, in common with all BA domestic flights, were offset using “high-quality, verified carbon offsets” – although there is significant dispute about the value of offsetting.

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