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An Airbus H225 has performed the first-ever helicopter flight with 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) powering both of its Safran Makila 2 engines. With aviation as a whole seeking to reduce its carbon footprint, the rotary industry is catching up to its fixed-wing counterpart, which has already flown and conducted test flights powered completely by SAF.
The landmark follows last November’s flight of an H225 with one engine powered by 100-percent SAF. That flight, which took place at the company’s headquarters in Marignane, marked the start of a test campaign which assessed the impact of unblended SAF on helicopter systems with a view to certifying the use of SAF blends greater than 50 percent.
“This flight with SAF powering the twin engines of the H225 is an important milestone for the helicopter industry,” said Stefan Thome, executive vice president, engineering and chief technical officer, Airbus Helicopters. “It marks a new stage in our journey to certify the use of 100 percent SAF in our helicopters, a fact that would mean a reduction of up to 90 percent in CO2 emissions alone.”
Tests are expected to continue using SAF on other types of helicopters with different fuel and engine architectures with a view to certifying the use of 100 percent SAF by 2030.
The use of SAF is a key pillar in Airbus Helicopters’ goal to reduce CO2 emissions from helicopters by 50 percent by 2030. One of the main benefits of using SAF is that it will help reduce aviation’s carbon footprint while having no adverse impact on helicopter performance or handling.