UK plane used by Royal Family and Prime Minister now using green jet fuel

The plane has left the UK with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall on board (pictured in 2020). Credit: PA

The UK’s official plane used by the Royal Family and senior government ministers is making its first ever flight using the new lower carbon jet fuel.

The RAF Voyager plane has left the UK with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall on board for the start of a four day Royal Tour in the Middle East.

It’s just made its first ever flight using sustainable aviation fuel. It’s the first RAF plane to be converted.

The Voyager planes are Airbus A330s, ordinarily used for air-to-air refuelling of fast jets, but one of the planes from the RAF’s fleet of Voyagers was converted in 2016 for the use of the Prime Minister and senior members of the Royal Family.

The RAF voyager. Credit: PA

The Queen would have first call on the plane, but as the 95-year old Monarch no longer travels abroad, it is used by Prince Charles and Prince William as well as government ministers for official travel.

In 2020, it was repainted from the military grey to a Union flag livery.

When it was last used by Boris Johnson to take him and the Downing Street delegation from the G7 in Rome to the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, it was still using traditional jet fuel.

But while world leaders and their diplomats have been wrangling over carbon emissions to keep global warming limited to 15.C, the RAF made its first conversion to sustainable aviation fuel, known as SAF.

SAF is a biofuel which has similar properties to conventional jet fuel.

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It can cut a plane’s carbon emissions by as much as 70 to 80 per cent compared to the jet fuel it replaces, over its life cycle.

SAF starts by extracting waste oils from crops, cooking, forestry, sugar, and paper manufacturing and mixing it with traditional kerosene.

Flying by plane accounts for approximately 2.5 per cent of global carbon emissions.

Scientists don’t agree on how sustainable the fuel is – as it’s carbon footprint is measured over the lifecycle of the product – for example how much carbon did it reduce while growing versus the carbon emitted when burned.

But it is a more environmentally friendly than burning fuel made entirely from fossil fuels.

Boris Johnson departing the RAF Voyager. Credit: PA

Charles and Camilla will spend two days in Jordon – having had to cancel a visit here in March 2020 as coronavirus began to spread across Europe.

They will also travel to Egypt which is the host country of COP27 next year where the focus will be on getting more countries to make greater and faster cuts to their carbon emissions.

Prince Charles and Camilla will meet with President Sisi and the First Lady and hold talks on protecting the environment.

They will also visit the Great Pyramids of Giza near Cairo and visit the port city of Alexandria.

The RAF Voyager is being used for the entire tour from the UK to Amman, Cairo, Alexandria and back again before the end of the week.