The Royal Air Force has successfully completed a Voyager air-to-air refuelling flight – powered by an approximately 43% blend of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
Flying from RAF Brize Norton, over the North Sea and via Farnborough on its return home, the Voyager aircraft also undertook air-to-air refuelling with Typhoons, as part of planned training.
This latest flight marks the launch of a new aviation Net Zero Carbon roadmap for commercial aviation.
This latest achievement, called "significant" by the Ministry of Defence, follows a series of recent milestones achieved by the RAF towards a sustainable aviation future.
In January, the RAF achieved its first SAF blend air-to-air refuelling of a Typhoon and C-130 Hercules aircraft.
An RAF Voyager delivered the fuel to the aircraft – the Voyager completed a ground-breaking trial flight in November 2022 during which it flew on 100% SAF.
Leftover fuel from that test was mixed with regular fuel at around 46-48%, the RAF said.
The RAF worked with BP to re-certify the mixture and ensure the required standards for a safe and effective mission.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel, which is created from waste-based sustainable feedstocks like used cooking oil, cuts lifecycle carbon emissions on average by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel.
It is hoped, in time, increased use of SAF should help to improve the RAF's operational resilience and reduce its reliance on global supply chains and fossil fuels.
Defence Minister Baroness Goldie said: "Greater use of alternative and sustainable fuel can only lead to positive outcomes for defence, the United Kingdom, and our collective endeavour against climate change.
"This is not an easy undertaking by the RAF, but time and again we see that by working collaboratively with our partners across the industry we can achieve crucial transformation."
Net zero by 2040
Supporting the RAF's ambitions to be net zero by 2040, the Voyager flight was part of an existing task from the Chief of the Air Staff to gather the required data to inform the longer-term transition away from fossil fuels.
Chief of Staff Support and Chief Engineer Air Vice-Marshal Paul Lloyd said: "The continued success of sustainable aviation fuel is reassuring to see.
"If we are to achieve our net zero goal by 2040 then exploiting these technologies is going to be an enormous, but worthwhile, endeavour.
"Despite the challenge, the benefits of reducing our reliance on traditional supply chains and fossil fuels outweigh it.
"The RAF is proud to be leading in this area and I welcome the announcement introduction of commercial uses of SAF," he added.