Warm welcome to the Red Arrows plan to go green

 In Air Pollution

The summer highlight for many is a visit to an air show, especially when the Red Arrows are present. Although the number of displays has been reduced this year because of covid restrictions, many are still going ahead. 

But not all the spectators will know that the world-famous aerobatic flight squadron is now planning to be more environmentally friendly to help protect the planet. The pilots and their technicians are looking for a “greener” alternative to its famous red, white and blue trails of smoke, which are made of 75 per cent diesel and 25 per cent dye, as part of the RAF’s aim to be the first net-zero air force by 2040.

“It shows how every aspect of our life is affected by climate and the Red Arrows are to be congratulated on playing their part,” said Midlands energy expert Ron Fox.

In 2019, the team, based at RAF Scampton, near Lincoln, used 643,000 litres of diesel and 63,000 litres of dye.

They have their own dye technicians who mix the red, white and blue colours and diesel in specially modified pods on each of the squadron’s two-seater Hawk T1 jets.

The dye and diesel are then injected into the hot exhaust from the jet engine by the pilot pushing one of three buttons on the control column for each of the colours.

As the mix hits temperatures above 400c, it is instantly vapourised and released into the air. Now the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is calling on the private sector to help develop an “environmentally friendly” alternative to the diesel-based colourful dyes used by the Red Arrows, without sacrificing a high level of performance.

Earlier this year the Government told the RAF the next generation of training aircraft must be greener, using a sustainable fuel such as electric or hydrogen producing zero carbon emissions at their point of use.

The Red Arrows team consists of 11 display pilots taken from front line RAF squadrons who use their world-class skills to manoeuvre round each other at breakneck speeds while releasing their colourful trail of red, white and blue smoke.

Formed in 1965, the Red Arrows have performed in 57 countries around the world and at more than 5,000 shows. 

Their most famous displays included flying alongside a British Airways Concorde to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s golden jubilee in 2002 and ten years later they celebrated her Diamond Jubilee and the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London.

“The Red Arrows are global ambassadors for Britain and the RAF with flying skills and first-class aircraft leaving plumes of red, white and blue smoke,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park in North Staffordshire. “Now they are going to be global ambassadors in the fight against climate change with their trails of ‘environmentally green’ smoke.”

For more information on cutting your carbon footprint call Ron on 0845 474 6641.

Caption:  Flying high for the environment – the Red Arrows who are going green. Picture supplied with permission by the MoD/Crown Copyright.

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