RAF’s first synthetic fuel drone flight – supported by Callen-Lenz

RAF’s first synthetic fuel drone flight – supported by Callen-Lenz

Callen-Lenz is delighted to have been instrumental in delivering the Royal Air Force’s ground-breaking work in using sustainable aviation fuel, an international collaboration between UK and US.

This was the first successful drone flight for the Royal Air Force (RAF) using an alternative to fossil fuel – synthetic kerosene. The novel fuel was tested in one of Callen-Lenz’s four-metre 30 kg Fregata UAVs. This drone test flight took place at Callen-Lenz’s flight test site in South Wiltshire and alongside a Callen-Lenz VTOL Fixed-Wing UAV, KOIOS for comparison.

During the flight trials in December 2021, Synthetic kerosene was trialled; entirely fossil fuel-free, made by mixing raw materials with high sugar levels, such as food waste, with bacteria to create an oil substance that is then converted into aviation fuel using chemicals and heat.

The flight trial was part of the Ministry of Defence, Royal Air Force’s plan to minimise the impact on the environment using sustainable fuels. Callen-Lenz and RCV Engines Ltd were supplied with 15 litres of synthetic fuel, which was tested and integrated into the system for flight trials with the aim of proving compatibility.

The successful trial has made big steps in demonstrating synthetic fuel as an alternative that could help the aviation and aerospace industry reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.