British Airways (BA) and its aviation partners proved that action speaks louder than words when they achieved record carbon emission reductions in their Perfect Flight demonstration. Its new sustainability liveried Airbus A320neo, powered directly by bp sustainable aviation fuel, operated the flight on 14 September.
BA teamed up with Heathrow, air traffic service provider NATS, fuel giant bp, Glasgow Airport and Airbus to conduct the 2021 demonstrator flight, which reduced CO2 emissions by 62% compared to the original Perfect Flight. It replicated a carbon neutral flight from London to Glasgow conducted 11 years ago to demonstrate that new technology and more efficient operations are helping aviation to decarbonise.
BA’s Perfect Flight incorporated continuous climb and descent to avoid fuel burn caused by levelling off, sustainable aviation fuel, and electric ground operations vehicles. The A320neo burns 20% less fuel, which means less C02, compared to its predecessor, and it is 50% quieter.
Since then, BA has made changes to its Airbus A320neo, including newer, lighter seats on the new aircraft, lighter catering trollies and replacement of heavy flight manuals and inflight magazines with digital downloads. These efforts help to reduce the weight of the aircraft and contribute to lower fuel use and lower emissions.
Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye summed it up aptly: “The Perfect Flight shows that the solutions to deliver net zero flight exist, we just need to scale them up. The faster we scale up supply and use of sustainable aviation fuels, the faster we can decarbonise aviation and protect the benefits of flying in a world without carbon. What is needed urgently is for Government to introduce policies to increase the supply of SAF and to provide the right price incentives for airlines to use it.”
BA’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 will be achieved through a series of short-, medium- and long-term initiatives. These include investment in new aircraft, the development of sustainable aviation fuel and hydrogen-powered aircraft and the investigation of carbon capture technology.