Aurélien Fleurot // Photo credit: Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP 08:40, November 28, 2023

Aviation is actively working to reduce its impact on the environment. Two days before the opening of COP28 in Dubai, the first commercial flight powered by biofuel will cross the Atlantic. On board: scientists, elected officials and normal passengers. At stake: the promise to reduce the carbon footprint by 70%.

Is it possible to have an aircraft with a much lower carbon footprint than it does today? Two days before the opening of COP28 in Dubai, a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 will make history. For the first time, an airliner will fly from London to New York on biofuel. On board, there are classic passengers who have paid for their tickets, but also scientists, elected officials and bosses of the airline sector. This demonstration flight has received all the authorisations from the British Civil Aviation Authority and will have a carbon footprint reduced by around 70%.

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A new, easy-to-use fuel

"We have biofuels that are now mature," Florence Delprat-Jannaud, from IFP Energies nouvelles, told Europe 1 radio. A big plus of this technology is that the aircraft did not need to be modified to fly on this fuel.

"These biofuels can be incorporated without having to change the engine. So they can be used right away without having to change the fuel distribution system either," continues Florence Delprat-Jannaud.

A sector still in its infancy

For the airline industry, this flight represents a major step towards the successful decarbonisation of the sector, although there are still many questions: the production sector is still in its infancy and for the time being, biofuels cost at least four times more than kerosene.

During this flight, another full-scale test will take place: that of software that makes it possible to fight against contrails, the white smoke left behind by planes, which contribute to global warming. By avoiding certain wetlands, they can be greatly reduced.