(eTN) – Virgin Atlantic, one of the world’s leading long-haul airlines, today said it will fly one of its Boeing 747s on biofuel during a demonstration flight in February. It will be the first time that a commercial aircraft has run biofuel in-flight and is part of a major initiative among some airlines and Boeing to discover sources of sustainable aircraft fuel for the future.
The Virgin Atlantic 747 will fly from London Heathrow to Amsterdam on a demonstration flight, with no passengers on board, using a truly sustainable type of biofuel that doesn’t compete with food and fresh water resources. The flight, in conjunction with Boeing and engine maker GE Aviation, is part of Virgin Atlantic’s drive to reduce its environmental impact wherever possible. The demonstration forms part of Virgin Atlantic’s vision for what the aviation industry can achieve by using clean-fuel technology to reduce carbon emissions.
Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic, said: “This breakthrough will help Virgin Atlantic to fly its planes using clean fuel sooner than expected. The demonstration flight next month will give us crucial knowledge that we can use to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint. Virgin Group pledged to invest all its profits from its transportation companies towards developing clean energy and with this breakthrough we are well down the path to achieving our goals.”
Virgin Atlantic became the world’s first airline to enable customers to buy their carbon offsets onboard the aircraft during a flight. Its offset program, launched last November, is a gold standard scheme, which is also available to buy online.
Virgin Atlantic also placed Europe’s largest order for Boeing 787 Dreamliners last year, when it ordered 15 787-9s, with options and purchase rights on another 28 aircraft. The 787 Dreamliner is up to 60 percent quieter and uses nearly 30 percent less fuel than the Airbus A340-300 it will replace in Virgin Atlantic’s fleet.