On Tuesday of last week (14 September 2021) British Airways flight BA1476 became the airline’s first passenger flight to be powered purely by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

The flight went from London Heathrow to Glasgow and was carbon-neutral, using one of airline’s new ‘sustainability aircraft’.

The flight took slightly less than an hour and was designed to demonstrate the progress the aviation industry has made towards reducing emissions from flights.

The plane used was an Airbus A320neo – billed as being the quietest and most fuel-efficient short-haul plane in the BA fleet.

These planes have been designed to burn 20% less fuel, and therefore generate 20% less CO2. They are also 50% quieter than traditional aircraft.

In a further attempt to minimise the carbon footprint, one of the BA’s electric Mototok vehicles was used to move the plane from its stand at Heathrow. On landing, the second engine was switched off to halve the power used and carbon emitted as the plane was taxi-ing on the runway.

It remains to be seen how effective these aircraft can be over longer flights, but it seems a more realistic step forward then electric planes, which are unlikely to be able to operate at scale over even short distances for the immediate future.

Airbus A320neo