British Air Force hails first-ever test flight using only synthetic fuel - from US based DefenseNews

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

By Andrew Chuter 17th November 2021


Zero Petroleum personnel fuel up a small test aircraft on Nov. 2 at Cotswold Airport, Britain, for the first flight using only synthetic aviation fuel, as test pilot RAF Group Captain Peter 'Willy' Hackett (L) looks on. (British MOD photo)


LONDON – Britain’s Royal Air Force has taken a landmark step towards slashing carbon emissions from its aircraft, announcing Nov. 17 that the service had completed the world’s first flight using 100 percent synthetic fuel together with commercial partner Zero Petroleum.

Using the company’s UL91 fuel the flight of the Ikarus C42 microlight plane from Cotswold Airport on Nov. 2 lasted 21 minutes.


The successful voyage by senior RAF test pilot Group Captain Peter Hackett has been logged by Guinness World Records as a world first for an aircraft using only synthetic fuel.


The initiative, part of a wider effort to reduce carbon emissions known as Project Martin, is partly funded by the RAF. Work on the role of synthetic fuels in reducing RAF emissions is being led by the air service’s Rapid Capabilities Office.


In a statement the MoD said the technology “has the potential to save 80-90% of carbon per flight, supporting the RAF’s vision that synthetic fuels will have a major role in powering the fast jets of the future.”


The RAF has previously signaled its intention to start replacing petroleum-based fuels on aircraft later this decade.


The replacement of 90 piston-powered Grob Aircraft T1 Tutor elementary flying trainers could be one of the first aircraft to be carbon emission free.


Zero Petroleum is a small British company founded by the hugely successful Formula One racing engineer Paddy Lowe and Nilay Shah, head of chemical engineering at Imperial College London.


Lowe said the aviation fuel, known as ZERO SynAvGas, was “developed in five months and ran successfully in the aircraft as a whole-blend without any modification to the aircraft or the engine.


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Zero Petroleum personnel fuel up a small test aircraft on Nov. 2 at Cotswold Airport, Britain, for the first flight using only synthetic aviation fuel, as test pilot RAF Group Captain Peter 'Willy' Hackett (L) looks on. (British MOD photo)

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