Friday, December 9, 2022

World’s first helicopter flight powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel

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An Airbus H225 has performed the first-ever helicopter flight with both of its Safran Makila 2 engines running on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). This flight is a part of the flight campaign aimed at understanding the impact of SAF use on the helicopter’s systems.

This follows on from a series of previous Airbus SAF tests in November 2021, including the flight of an H225 with one SAF-powered Makila 2 engine and the other one powered by regular fuel. In March, Airbus also performed the first-ever A380 flight powered by 100% SAF, which was made mainly out of cooking oil and other waste fats.

Airbus has also tested SAFs and other alternatives, such as hydrogen-electric propulsion on airliners, in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint. Tests are expected to continue on other types of helicopters with different fuel and engine architectures with a view to certifying the use of 100% SAF by 2030.

The use of sustainable aviation fuel is one of Airbus Helicopters’ levers to achieve its ambition of reducing CO2 emissions from its helicopters by 50% by 2030. Using this new fuel allows the aircraft to minimize its carbon footprint while maintaining the same flight performance.

In June 2021, Airbus Helicopters launched the SAF User Group with the intention of bringing all stakeholders together to work on ways to accelerate the use of blended SAF kerosene and pave the way toward 100% SAF flights for future fleets. All Airbus commercial aircraft and helicopters are certified to fly with up to a 50% blend of SAF. The company aims to achieve certification of 100% SAF by 2030 for Airbus commercial aircraft and helicopters.

“This flight with SAF powering the twin engines of the H225 is an important milestone for the helicopter industry. It marks a new stage in our journey to certify the use of 100% SAF in our helicopters, a fact that would mean a reduction of up to 90% in CO2 emissions alone,” said Stefan Thome, Executive Vice President, Engineering and Chief Technical Officer Airbus, Helicopters.

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