RAF sets new world record for first successful flight using only synthetic fuel in ‘unique project’

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The RAF has set a new Guinness record for the world’s first successful flight using only synthetic fuel.

In a world-first, an Ikarus C42 microlight aircraft flown by Group Captain Peter Hackett, completed a short flight powered by synthetic gasoline.

The record – set at Cotswold Airport earlier this month – was achieved in partnership with Zero Petroleum.

RAF Group Captain Peter 'Willy' Hackett flew the Ikarus C42 microlight on a short test flight

Its synthetic UL91 fuel is made by combining hydrogen extracted from water and carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, said: “Climate change is a transnational challenge which threatens global resilience and our shared security and prosperity.

“The way we power our aircraft will be a big part of achieving that goal, and this exciting project to make aviation fuel from air and water shows how it might be done.”

Whilst green technologies like electric and hydrogen power generation are viable for many RAF platforms, high-performance aircraft require a liquid fuel alternative.

Paddy Lowe, CEO of Zero Petroleum, said: “This unique project with the Royal Air Force demonstrates the validity of our synthetic fuel and the potential it has to eliminate fossil CO2 emissions from a number of difficult but critical sectors, including transport which currently accounts for 23% of the global total.”

This innovation is part of the RAF’s Project MARTIN and has the potential to save 80-90% of carbon per flight, according to the Ministry of Defence.

And working towards the government’s Net Zero by 2050 goal, the RAF plans for its first net-zero airbase by 2025, and goal of a net-zero force by 2040.


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