We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Are Waste Fats and Plant Sugars the Future of Aviation Fuel?

Margaret Lipman
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

On November 28, 2023, a Virgin Atlantic test flight, powered exclusively by sustainable aviation fuel, completed a historic journey from London’s Heathrow Airport to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The flight of the Boeing 787 has been hailed as a breakthrough in the global push to decarbonize aviation.

Made from raw materials such as waste fats, plant sugars, corn, and algae, sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) produce 70% less carbon than traditional petroleum-based jet fuel. While airlines have previously blended SAFs with standard fuels, this flight marked the first instance of an aircraft relying solely on SAF. Praising the achievement, which was partly financed by the UK government, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the flight was “a major milestone towards making air travel more environmentally friendly and decarbonizing our skies.”

However, despite SAF's pivotal role in the future of aviation fuel, the industry faces substantial challenges on the path to offering regular commercial flights that are fully powered by SAF. Currently, SAF accounts for only 0.1% of global jet fuel usage.

One of the primary obstacles is that SAF is far more expensive than traditional jet fuel, which deters airlines from buying SAF and manufacturing facilities from mass-producing these fuels.

Traditional jet fuels contain aromatic compounds that keep engines functioning correctly, but many SAFs do not contain these compounds. Therefore, further research and technological advancements will need to take place before planes can operate on these sustainable fuels.

Nevertheless, there is hope for the future as five commercial plants producing SAF will soon be under construction in the UK. The European Union has also passed laws requiring airlines to use 70% SAF by 2050, which aligns with the broader global effort to usher in a new era of sustainable aviation.

Flight facts:

  • The Scottish airline Loganair operates the world's shortest commercial flight, which connects Westray and Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands. The flight covers a distance of around 1.7 miles (2.7 km) and takes only 90 seconds.

  • American pilot Jessica Cox is the world's first licensed armless pilot. She uses her feet to control the aircraft and has been an inspiring figure in breaking barriers for people with disabilities.

  • Only 5% of the world's population has ever flown in an airplane.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
Discussion Comments
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.