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  • Joe Breitfeller

RAF Voyager Airbus A330MRTT Completes First 100 Percent SAF Test Flight on Both Engines

The Royal Air Force, Airbus and other stakeholders have successfully completed the world’s first 100 percent SAF flight using an in-service military aircraft, on of the RAF’s Voyagers, an Airbus A330MRTT.

Airbus A330MRTT Voyager Takes off From RAF Brize Norton for the First Time Powered by 100 Percent SAF on Both Engines - Photo Credit: MoD Crown Copyright/Airbus

On Friday (November 19, 2022), Airbus announced the successful completion of the world’s first 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) flight on an in-service military aircraft. The test was completed with a Royal Air Force (RAF) Voyager Airbus A330MRTT, the military variant of the Airbus A330 commercial jetliner. The flight was carried out in UK airspace on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, in partnership with the RAF, Airbus, the UK Ministry of Defence’s Defence Equipment and Support agency, British aircraft leasing company Air Tanker and Rolls-Royce, with both engines powered by 100 percent SAF.

In Friday’s announcement, Airbus Defence and Space’s CEO, Michael Schoellhorn, said,

“True to our purpose of ‘pioneering aerospace’, we have gladly supported the Royal Air Force on this landmark sustainable-fuel test flight. I commend our UK customer for this achievement which helps pave the way for a sustainable reduction of carbon emissions of our military aircraft fleets. Airbus engineers have made a significant contribution to this RAF mission by providing on-the-ground expertise in recent weeks and securing the necessary MoD military flight permits.”

Also commenting on the milestone flight, Experimental Test Pilot and Captain of the flight, Jesus Ruiz, said,

“From the crew perspective, the SAF operation was ‘transparent’, meaning that no differences were observed operationally. The Test Plan was exhaustive and robust and has allowed us to compare SAF with JET1 culminating in a flight without a single drop of fossil fuel. Teamwork was a key contributor, harmonsing experience from Airbus, Rolls-Royce and the RAF. We feel very proud to be a small part of this huge step for sustainable aviation.”

Airbus A330MRTT Voyager Takes off From RAF Brize Norton for the First Time Powered by 100 Percent SAF on Both Engines - Video Credit: MoD Crown Copyright/Airbus

The 90-minute return flight from RAF Brize Norton was flown by a combined Airbus, RAF and Rolls-Royce flight test crew, and replicated an air-to-air refueling sortie, and was also witnessed by senior industry and RAF representatives. SAF is made from waste-based sustainable feedstock, on the fuel used in this test was produced from used cooking oil. Sustainable aviation fuel reduces lifecycle carbon emissions by up to 80 percent compared to conventional fossil-based kerosene, and will help lessen the RAF’s reliance on global supply chains.

Source: Airbus