Latest News

28 November

Virgin conducts first 100% SAF commercial transatlantic flight

After a year of planning, Virgin Atlantic has finally conducted its transatlantic flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from London to New York, becoming the first commercial airline to do so. After a small delay, VS100 took off from Heathrow at 11:49 local time.

Despite just missing out on being the very first to complete the achievement, as Gulfstream Aerospace flew its business jet across the ocean on SAF last week, Virgin still described the Heathrow to JFK airport flight as “historic.”

The Virgin flight, operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, is part of an ongoing effort to demonstrate the capabilities of the lower emissions fuel, which can offer up to 70% reductions in lifecycle CO2 emissions compared to traditional jet fuel. However, the product is currently in need of significant investment if it is to be used at scale. 

In a blog about the “Flight100” project, Virgin founder Richard Branson said: “A huge well done to the Virgin Atlantic team and all of our partners for coming together and making this happen – now we’ve shown that it can work, it will take industry and governments to make it an everyday reality.” 

30 November

US FAA changes aircraft approval process after Boeing crashes

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has confirmed changes to its aircraft certification policies including a greater focus on flight control systems following the two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 linked to a specific safety system. 

The FAA’s new policy will require design changes for flight control systems designated as “major” to increase transparency around their design and use after Boeing did not disclose important details about its MCAS system during the certification of the 737 MAX. 

While the aircraft model is now flying again, the crashes which killed 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia, led to its grounding for 20 months before rigorous testing allowed it to be cleared to fly again.

The FAA’s new policy would be joined by additional guidance to aircraft manufacturers on how to identify and supply safety-critical information. The focus on the supply of safety-critical data comes three years after the US Congress passed legislation to reform how the FAA certified new planes.

21 November

Gulfstream flies first 100% SAF-powered transatlantic flight

US aircraft manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace has conducted the first transatlantic flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) with a G600 aircraft that flew between the state of Georgia in the US and the UK.  

The just under seven-hour-long flight took off from the company’s headquarters in Savannah, Georgia and landed at Farnborough Airport, UK, beating airline Virgin Atlantic to the achievement by just over a week. 

On 19 November, Gulfstream’s flight, using Pratt & Whitney PW815GA engines, marked a significant milestone for the low-emission fuel, which has been highlighted as a key part of the industry’s net zero ambitions and allowed the company to collect data on the use of the fuel in particularly cold, long-distance flights.

The SAF used on the flight was produced by World Energy, which also claims to have been the first SAF producer and comprised of 100% hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids providing 70% lower lifecycle CO₂ emissions compared to traditional jet fuel. 

20 November

Norway authority says it may block Norwegian’s Widerøe acquisition

Norway’s Competition Authority has warned that it may block Norwegian’s acquisition of Widerøe over concern that it could affect competition in the country’s aviation market. 

The authority said that its assessment of the proposed acquisition had led it to believe that it could lead to more expensive and fewer overall flights for passengers in the country and higher prices for other airlines using ground handling services at some airports. 

Both Norwegian and Widerøe have been informed of the authority’s concerns and will have until 8 December to submit their comments before a final decision is due by 3 January 2024, though the authority said an already submitted proposal by Norwegian on-ground handling concerns was not considered adequate at this stage. 

When announcing the acquisition, Norwegian previously highlighted that only five of its routes overlap with Widerøe’s offerings, with both airlines covering 107 routes in Norway.

16 November

Munich Airport brings forward net zero target to 2035

Munich Airport in Germany has significantly increased its sustainability targets by moving its net zero goal forward from 2050 to 2035.

The airport has said that it would continue working on technology in several different areas to achieve the new goal, which would see CO₂ emissions reduced by more than 90,000 tonnes compared to 2016 base levels.

To outline its work to reach the new goal, the airport highlighted the four areas it would be focusing on in its efforts, including energy supply, buildings, its vehicle fleet and the airport’s specific facilities and technical infrastructure.

In particular, the Bavarian airport said it would be looking at the use of renewable natural gas for its in-house cogeneration plant, along with expanding its use of solar panels and establishing an additional power grid to ensure access to green electricity.