Look up in the sky… it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a flying French fry vat.Virgin Airlines is literally staking out virgin ground — or more accurately, airspace — when it flies the first transatlantic flight on vegetable oil.The UK Civil Aviation Authority announced on Monday it has granted a permit for Virgin to attempt the feat on November 28 when it takes off from Heathrow to JFK in New York on 100% ‘sustainable aviation fuel’ (SAF).Virgin Atlantic was awarded up to £1 million in UK government funding in December 2022, following a challenge from the Department for Transport to the airline industry to successfully achieve the first transatlantic flight on an aircraft powered by 100% SAF..Virgin worked with a consortium of companies comprised of Boeing, Rolls-Royce, BP and others, to demonstrate SAF as an alternative to regular jet fuel.Airlines, including Air Canada, have previously used SAF in its operations, but only to a maximum of 50% blended with traditional jet fuel or kerosene. This will be the first time it has been attempted with 100% non-petroleum based fuel.In a news release, the UK aviation regulator said SAF could reduce lifecycle carbon emissions more than 70% compared to conventional fossil jet fuel. It’s part of the UK government’s so-called ‘Jet Zero’ strategy for achieving net-zero aviation, which includes SAF as a key consideration..“Getting to this point has been more than a year in the making and taken radical collaboration across our consortium partners and government. We’re committed to using 10% SAF by 2030, but to get there we need the government to support the creation of a UK SAF industry. We know that if we can make it, we can fly it.”Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss.The permit forms only one of the approvals required for the flight; Virgin will now submit applications to the Federal Aviation Administration, Irish Aviation Authority and Transport Canada to allow the flight to travel through US, Irish and Canadian airspace because they allow only a maximum of 50% SAF in international flights.In addition to the use of SAF, other efficiency measures are being put in place to highlight operational and in-flight efficiency along with research and development into non-CO2 aspects of the fuel which include particulate matter and contrails. A full end-to-end life cycle analysis of the flight will be undertaken, accounting for the reduction associated with the use of SAF and the fuel optimization activities being deployed for what is being called ‘Flight100.’ Any residual emissions are being mitigated with the use of carbon removals — specifically ‘biochar’ smoke — with a material that traps and stores carbon taken from the atmosphere..Earlier this year Air Canada allocated $50 million towards SAF and other low carbon aviation fuel development, carbon reduction and removal technologies. In January, Imperial Oil announced plans to build a $720 million bio-fuel refinery near Edmonton. Although it will initially produce about 20,000 barrels per day of diesel fuel substitutes, it can presumably be configured for aviation fuels as well.