Virgin Atlantic flies world’s first 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK

Virgin Atlantic’s historic flight on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) takes off from London Heathrow to New York JFK today, marking the culmination of a year of radical collaboration, to demonstrate the capability of SAF as a safe drop-in replacement for fossil derived jet fuel, compatible with today’s engines, airframes and fuel infrastructure.

SAF has a significant role to play in the decarbonization of long haul aviation, and pathway to Net Zero 2050. The fuel, made from waste products, delivers CO2 lifecycle emissions savings of up to 70%, whilst performing like the traditional jet fuel it replaces.

While other technologies such as electric and hydrogen remain decades away, SAF can be used now. Today, SAF represents less than 0.1% of global jet fuel volumes and fuel standards allow for just a 50% SAF blend in commercial jet engines. Flight100 will prove that the challenge of scaling up production is one of policy and investment, and industry and government must move quickly to create a thriving UK SAF industry.

As well as proving the capabilities of SAF, Flight100 will assess how its use affects the flight’s non-carbon emissions with the support of consortium partners ICF, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Imperial College London and University of Sheffield. The research will improve scientific understanding of the effects of SAF on contrails and particulates and help to implement contrail forecasts in the flight planning process. Data and research will be shared with industry, and Virgin Atlantic will continue its involvement with contrail work through RMI’s Climate Impact Task Force, which is part-funded by Virgin Unite.

The SAF used on Flight100 is a unique dual blend; 88% HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids) supplied by AirBP and 12% SAK (Synthetic Aromatic Kerosene) supplied by Virent, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corporation. The HEFA is made from waste fats while the SAK is made from plant sugars, with the remainder of plant proteins, oil and fibers continuing into the food chain. SAK is needed in 100% SAF blends to give the fuel the required aromatics for engine function. To achieve Net Zero 2050, the innovation and investment needed across all available feedstocks and technologies must be harnessed to maximize SAF volumes as well as continuing the research and development needed to bring new zero emission aircraft to market. 

Virgin Atlantic says it is committed to finding more sustainable ways to fly. The company reports that it already operates one of the youngest and most fuel and carbon efficient fleets in the sky, Flight100 builds on the airline’s 15-year track record for leading on the development of SAF at scale. “Flight100 proves that Sustainable Aviation Fuel can be used as a safe, drop-in replacement for fossil-derived jet fuel and it’s the only viable solution for decarbonizing long haul aviation,” said Shai Weiss, chief executive officer, Virgin Atlantic. “It’s taken radical collaboration to get here and we’re proud to have reached this important milestone, but we need to push further. There’s simply not enough SAF and it’s clear that in order to reach production at scale, we need to see significantly more investment. This will only happen when regulatory certainty and price support mechanisms, backed by Government, are in place. Flight100 proves that if you make it, we’ll fly it.”

“The world will always assume something can’t be done, until you do it. The spirit of innovation is getting out there and trying to prove that we can do things better for everyone’s benefit. Virgin Atlantic has been challenging the status quo and pushing the aviation industry to never settle and do better since 1984. Fast forward nearly 40 years, that pioneering spirit continues to be Virgin Atlantic’s beating heart as it pushes the boundaries from carbon fiber aircraft and fleet upgrades to sustainable fuels,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Atlantic. “I couldn’t be prouder to be onboard Flight100 today alongside the teams at Virgin Atlantic and our partners, which have been working together to set the flight path for the decarbonisation of long-haul aviation.”

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Today’s historic flight, powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel, shows how we can both decarbonize transport and enable passengers to keep flying when and where they want. This Government has backed today’s flight to take-off and we will continue to support the UK’s emerging SAF industry as it creates jobs, grows the economy and gets us to Jet Zero.”

 ACI Supports Visionary ICAO Goal for Sustainable Aviation Fuel 

Airports Council International applauds and supports the visionary International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) goal for sustainable aviation fuel to come from the Third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) that took place in Dubai from 20–24 November. 

On 24 November, governments from over 100 States, meeting with industry and civil society, have set a goal that aviation fuel in 2030 should be 5% less carbon intensive than the fossil fuel which makes up nearly all of today’s aviation energy. This will be achieved through a transition to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), lower carbon aviation fuels (LCAF), and other cleaner energies which will play a pivotal role in the industry’s ability to deliver the ICAO Long Term Aspirational Goal.

The ICAO CAAF/3 conference also agreed a Global Framework for Cleaner Energies, which provides for assistance to help States with the transition.

During the 5-day event, ACI, representing the airport industry, had expressed its support for the aviation sector transition away from fossil fuels. ACI had pressed for an ambitious quantified goal for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) deployment for 2030, with a view that a 5% reduction in the carbon intensity goal should be considered a necessary starting point.

ACI had also asked that States agree on a supportive global framework to enable implementation of the goal and to provide the necessary assistance to developed and developing countries. These measures would de-risk investment and ensure policy certainty, while enabling all States to participate both in the production and use of SAF on a non-discriminatory basis, allowing them to take advantage of the energy transition, building new industries, and providing up to 14 million jobs.

ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said: “ACI applauds and supports the visionary ICAO goal for 5% carbon intensity reduction by 2030 – it will be crucial to delivering the ICAO Long Term Aspirational Goal of net zero carbon emission by 2050. ACI was present and engaged at ICAO CAAF/3, advocating on behalf of airports for this goal – this is a prime example of how regulators and industry can work together. We look forward to continuing to foster consensus across regulators and industry at the upcoming COP28.

“Airports are already taking action in a number of ways, most importantly by engaging with fuel suppliers, airlines, and local and national regulators. Despite the transition to SAF already underway with policy measures being implemented or discussed in around 40 countries, supportive policies will be crucial to speed up the development and supply of SAF globally.”

In February 2023, ACI joined the ICAO Assistance, Capacity-building and Training for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (ACT-SAF) program and has long been supporting its airport members in decarbonization, including through the ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation program, managed by ACI EUROPE.

Electra Completes World’s First Hybrid-Electric eSTOL Aircraft Flight (Electra) has successfully completed the first flights of its EL-2 Goldfinch, a hybrid-electric, ultra-short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft.

“The Goldfinch completed an all-electric test flight on November 11 and a hybrid-electric flight on November 19, both piloted by Cody Allee, from the Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia. The first hybrid flight lasted 23 minutes, reached an altitude of 3,200 feet, and covered a distance of approximately 30 miles,” said Electra’s Vice President and General Manager JP Stewart. “We’re looking forward to further expanding the envelope of this aircraft and demonstrating the full capability of Electra’s technology.”

The two-seat Goldfinch eSTOL technology demonstrator is the world’s first blown lift aircraft using distributed electric propulsion and a hybrid-electric propulsion system. The aircraft uses eight electric motors to significantly increase wing lift and enable ultra-short takeoffs and landings while dramatically reducing noise and emissions below those of conventional aircraft and helicopters. Hybrid-electric power provides long ranges without the need for ground-based charging stations.

Electra is developing a nine-passenger version of the aircraft for commercial and government markets that can take off and land with ground rolls as short as 150 feet and fly at speeds of 200 mph for distances of 500 miles. Electra’s eSTOL product is backed by strong market interest; Electra currently holds pre-orders from more than 30 customers for over 1,700 aircraft, totaling more than $6 billion in backlog. Electra will develop a prototype of a full-scale pre-production eSTOL aircraft under a previously announced strategic funding partnership valued up to $85 million with the U.S. Air Force AFWERX Agility Prime Program. Certification and entry into commercial service under FAA Part 23 regulations is targeted for 2028.  

“The aim of Electra is to fill a gap in air travel between 50 and 500 miles, where most trips today are made by automobile. The key to saving time is to operate close in, which means getting in and out of small spaces quietly and safely, while still being fast enough to cover long distances,” said John Langford, Electra founder and CEO. “Electra will be able to take you from downtown Manhattan not only to Kennedy Airport, but to Washington, DC. It will bring air service to thousands of communities where air travel today is not a practical or affordable option. It also opens vast new opportunities for middle-mile cargo logistics.”

ICAO Conference Kicks Off in Dubai to Accelerate Global Aviation’s Transition to Cleaner Energy Sources

More than one hundred countries and one thousand delegates are convening in Dubai this week to firm up their collective commitments to boost global aviation’s transition towards Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), Lower Carbon Aviation Fuels (LCAF), and other cleaner energy sources. 

“CAAF/3 convenes just over a year after States’ landmark decision on the long-term global aspirational goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Salvatore Sciacchitano ICAO council president in his opening remarks to the event. “This agreement through ICAO is a testament to our ever progressive efforts to bring about coordinated action on cleaner aviation fuels and energy sources, which presently hold the greatest potential for us to take urgent action on aviation decarbonization.”

During 2023, ICAO conducted outreach activities and consultations to collect views among States and stakeholders on their expectations on a global framework that would facilitate the scale up in the development, production and deployment of aviation cleaner energies. Financial institutions and fuel producers were also consulted on the required actions to boost investments in aviation cleaner energy.

The third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) will  present a unique opportunity to consider a clear and robust global framework to respond to those expectations and build market confidence.  Key elements of this framework include a collective Vision for the clean energy ambition,  harmonized regulatory foundation, supporting implementation initiatives, and concrete means to facilitate financing so that “No Country is left behind”

“While cleaner energy in aviation is advancing at an unprecedented pace, and ICAO is closely monitoring progress through its Tracker Tools and the LTAG Stocktaking process, substantial investments and financing in this field is still required. Countries have been clear that they expect ICAO to take the leadership role in bringing them together to agree on key priorities needed for the transition to cleaner energy to take place, and to provide a platform where they can develop the effective partnerships needed with the air transport, energy, and finance sectors to make sustainable aviation a global reality,” commented ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar.

The five day Conference will be continuing in Dubai, United Arab Emirates until 24 November, and its results will send a strong message to the international community regarding the determination of ICAO and its Member States in addressing the impact of aviation on the global climate.

Honeywell Providing Advanced Flight ControlsS for AIBOT’s Electric Aircraft

Honeywell has been selected by AIBOT to provide its Compact Fly-By-Wire (cFBW) system to support AIBOT’s fully electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. This Honeywell technology will empower the next generation of aircraft avionics and create a sustainable transportation ecosystem for the future. 

Honeywell’s lightweight Compact Fly-By-Wire system, the size of a paperback book, provides aircraft manufacturers, like AIBOT, greater flexibility in aircraft design without compromising power or safety. The system enables the removal of conventional mechanical linkages controlling the effectors, streamlining maintenance procedures, and reducing costs throughout the entire lifecycle of an aircraft.

It also enables seamless remote operation of the aircraft, translating instructions from the aircraft’s operator into flight control commands on the aircraft. The system’s envelope-limiting feature guarantees safe operations, making it particularly well-suited for stabilizing uniquely designed unmanned vehicles and delivering a stable flying experience.

“Our Compact Fly-By-Wire system is a ready-now solution to advance the future of sustainable flight. It is derived from decades of expertise providing similar systems for commercial airliners,” said David Shilliday, vice president and general manager, Advanced Air Mobility, Honeywell Aerospace. “The collaboration will enable AIBOT to realize its vision of creating a sustainable and efficient transportation ecosystem.” 

The AIBOT aircraft is powered by eight electric motors and will accommodate up to six passengers and a pilot. With maximum takeoff weight of 7,000 pounds, the aircraft has a target maximum range of 250 miles and a top cruise speed of 250 mph, making it suitable for short-haul use cases between cities and metropolitan areas across the globe. In 2024, AIBOT will kick off the production of fully autonomous heavy unmanned aircraft for industries like cargo, agriculture, high-speed inspection, and medical deliveries. This endeavor shares its system architecture with AIBOT’s manned aircraft, for which the inaugural flight will be in 2025. Full product delivery of each aircraft is expected by 2028. 

“AIBOT is poised to revolutionize the urban air mobility market by utilizing the latest in cutting-edge, safety-critical computing platforms, particularly those which bolster the high-performance processing needed for the next-gen algorithms we developed,” said Jerry Wang, Executive Chairman, AIBOT. “Collaborating with Honeywell is a huge step forward for us and will help us power the most advanced software-driven aiEVTOL platform.”

Bally Ribbon Mills Supplies E-WEBBINGS E-textiles to Best Aviation Services. Inc. for Torabhaig Atlantic Explorer Gas Balloon

Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM) announced it provided E-WEBBINGS e-textiles to Best Aviation Services. Inc., the balloon manufacturing and repair company supplying a tension system to support the Torabhaig Atlantic Explorer gas balloon’s open basket as it prepares to take the first flight across the Atlantic in an open basket gas balloon. The innovative design incorporates electronic components used to dissipate static electricity. The balloon will take off from Maine and then fly over Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic and landing in Europe.

The new design was critical to meeting the very tight manufacturing timeline by reducing the project’s Bill of Materials and saving Best Aviation hundreds of hours of additional sewing. Bert Padelt, owner of the Bally, Pennsylvania-based balloon manufacturing and repair company, said, “Because of your design and quick turn-around on this R&D work, we were able to meet our tight deadline and launch window schedule.”

The Torabhaig Atlantic Explorer, piloted by UK-based Sir David Hempleman-Adams, will collect air samples to look for new scientific discoveries. Sir Hempleman-Adams will be accompanied by Bert Padelt and Swiss explorer, scientist and entrepreneur, Dr Frederik Paulsen. The journey is expected to take four to five days, flying at an altitude of 6,000 to 8,000 feet. It would be the first Atlantic crossing in a hydrogen balloon and may also mark the longest distance covered in this type of balloon.

AMADA WELD TECH Expands Range of Galvo Scanning Heads for Laser Welding Applications

AMADA WELD TECH, Inc., a leading manufacturer of equipment and systems for welding, marking, cutting, sealing, and bonding, announces a range of galvo scan heads for precision laser welding applications.

Common usages for these scanning heads include point-to-point positioning for multi-point welding, shape welding for hermetic seams, and beam weaving to increase weld width.

Point-to-point positioning is frequently employed where multiple welds are needed over a small area, for example, electronic connector leads. The jump speed is nearly instantaneous compared to either traditional motion stages or robotic motion, and can dramatically decrease cycle times.

Contour welding: galvo scanning heads are adept at steering the laser beam in an XY plane to create a seam weld of any programmed shape. This is commonly used for electronic package welding, where a specific motion is necessary to create a hermetic seal, and for lap welding configurations where additional weld contact is required.

Wobble is an extension of the seam welding application, in which the scanning head “wobbles” the beam in a small area to increase the melt pool. This improves the manufacturability of parts with lower tolerances on fit-up between the parts.

The galvo scan heads all feature advanced, intuitive software dedicated to welding, and a configurable pattern to adjust for part geometry and enhance weld performance. An integrated safety shutter ensures a safe work environment for operators.

The robust solutions are designed to work with lasers up to 3 kilowatts (kW) and field sizes up to 100 x 100 millimeters. Integrate with a linear stage motion to weld at different workpiece heights or add a wobble to linear motion for the accommodation of tolerances in fit-up for seam welds.


Since 1948, AMADA WELD TECH has worked to achieve one goal: to solve customer’s manufacturing challenges. Knowing there is no one solution that fits all, the company strives to provide customers with innovative and reliable manufacturing technology solutions in an effort to be a single-source provider. AMADA WELD TECH manufactures equipment and systems for resistance welding, laser welding, laser marking, laser cutting, hermetic sealing, and hot bar reflow soldering and bonding. The company serves a wide range of markets including medical devices, batteries, aerospace, automotive and electronic components. AMADA WELD TECH is an ISO9001-certified company. Contact AMADA WELD TECH at Learn more about the company’s products and services at


Honeywell has launched DARWIN, a Honeywell-led project under the European Union’s SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking, to leverage artificial intelligence and advance single-pilot operations in Europe. Research will focus on a human-AI collaboration system, defining clear roles and responsibilities with human pilots remaining the ultimate decision-makers.

Challenges that currently prevent air transport aircraft to be manned by a single pilot include the need to keep cockpit workload sufficiently low to allow one person to address even the most demanding situations; the need to replace the second pair of eyes to cross-check actions of the pilot in command; and the need to detect and mitigate a pilot incapacitation. Human-AI teaming can help support pilots in each of the scenarios above.

“A need for higher autonomy requires digital transformation. For both, we need to build trust in AI-based solutions. DARWIN will develop a scalable human-AI collaboration concept that can gradually introduce new functions and pilot assistants, in line with the EASA AI Roadmap,” said Jolana Dvorska, senior research and development manager and architect for SESAR, Honeywell Aerospace. 

“This project lays a solid foundation for the future of AI and AI-human collaboration in Honeywell avionics,” said Andrew Barker, vice president of Integrated Avionics, Honeywell Aerospace. “We must focus our efforts in these areas to ensure proper baselines are established for the future of minimum crew operations.” 

Project DARWIN will develop AI-powered digital assistants and a human-AI collaboration framework to support both extended minimum crew operations and single-pilot operations, ensuring the same (or higher) level of safety and same (or lower) workload as operations with a full crew today. The project will deliver solutions that enable operational efficiency, such as pilot state and task monitoring, with the complexity of the future airspace in mind. 

The Honeywell-led consortium consists of industry technology providers, aircraft OEMs, leading research institutes, air navigation service providers, and key European institutions and regulatory bodies. Project partners include Pipistrel, DLR, Eurocontrol, EASA and Slovenia Control. Work will be led from Honeywell’s international development center in Brno, Czech Republic.

The SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking is an institutionalized European partnership between private and public sector partners co-funded by the European Union to accelerate the delivery of the Digital European Sky through research and innovation.

Reliable Robotics Achieves Key Milestones in Large Aircraft Automation Study for the U.S. Air Force

Reliable Robotics reports it has made significant progress towards a working autonomy solution for the U.S. Air Force. Reliable’s automation system enables continuous autopilot engagement through all phases of aircraft operation, including taxi, takeoff and landing with a remote pilot supervising operations. Remotely operating large multi-engine Air Force jets like the KC-135 Stratotanker will enable higher aircraft utilization, more frequent deployment and almost continuous operation to fly further distances unimpeded by crew repositioning logistics. As part of an Air Force-funded contract to examine automation of large aircraft for reduced crew and uncrewed solutions, Reliable Robotics conducted detailed analyses of the applicability of its Remotely Operated Aircraft System (ROAS) to advance cargo logistics and refueling capacity.

Reliable’s most recent report reveals three positive findings related to adapting the system for large U.S. Air Force aircraft:

  • The airframe examined can readily accommodate required system upgrades for remote operation with only modest adjustments for remote piloting and select refueling operations. Navigation and communications upgrades will support expected future military operating environments.
  • Large remotely piloted military aircraft can gain efficiency improvements and operational flexibility equivalent to commercial operations without the need to manufacture new aircraft, providing the Air Force with significant financial advantage.
  • The same levels of system reliability required under FAA certification, and designed into the ROAS architecture and hardware, can be achieved when the system is flying on these larger airframes in the U.S. National Airspace System.

“At Reliable Robotics, we are obsessed with enabling previously unimaginable capabilities for the U.S. Air Force through autonomy,” said David O’Brien, Major General (Ret.), and Senior Vice President of Government Solutions at Reliable Robotics. “Automating existing inventory at fractional costs will provide commanders unprecedented flexibility and safety in meeting acute operational demands with the smallest deployed human footprint.”

Reliable’s certification plan was formally accepted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier this year. Once certified, the system will improve aviation safety with higher precision navigation, sophisticated flight planning capabilities and more robust flight controls with or without onboard crew.

RTX Developing Solid-State Circuit Breaker for Hybrid-Electric Aircraft Under NASA Contract

RTX Developing Solid-State Circuit Breaker for Hybrid-Electric Aircraft Under NASA Contract

RTX has successfully demonstrated the operation of a solid-state circuit breaker to support hybrid-electric propulsion systems in future aircraft, a key part of the aviation industry’s efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Much like a circuit breaker in a residential home, a circuit breaker on an aircraft helps protect the plane by removing power from the system when it senses an electric fault. With future hybrid-electric propulsion systems slated to see increases in voltage and power compared to today’s aircraft, they will require new circuit breakers that can handle higher loads. RTX’s novel solid-state technology will enable its circuit breaker to handle five times the power of the largest circuit breaker flying today, with the ability to interrupt thousands of amps of current in less than 100 microseconds.

The circuit breaker is being developed as part of a collaboration between the RTX Technology Research Center (RTRC), Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney under NASA’s Advanced Air Vehicles Program (AAVP).

“Without new circuit breakers that can manage higher loads, hybrid-electric aircraft won’t be possible,” said Andreas Roelofs, RTX vice president of research and RTRC director. “We’re leveraging the combined expertise of the RTX enterprise in power electronics, protection and integration to create a lightweight, power dense solution that will help enable the next generation of hybrid-electric and all-electric platforms.”

Having completed design, functional and altitude testing, RTX expects to further develop and refine the solution through system integration in Collins’ new electric power systems lab—The Grid—and flight demonstration in the coming years.

Hybrid-electric propulsion is a key pillar of the company’s sustainability technology roadmap. In addition to the solid-state circuit breaker, the company is also developing megawatt-class motor drive systems, a hybrid-electric flight and participating in the European Union’s Clean Aviation SWITCH project.