An Airbus H225 has performed the first ever helicopter flight with 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) powering both Safran’s Makila 2 engines.

The flight, which follows the flight of an H225 with one SAF-powered Makila 2 engine in November 2021, is part of a campaign aimed at understanding the impact of SAF use on the helicopter’s systems.

Tests are expected to continue on other types of helicopters with different fuel and engine systems with a view to certify the use of 100 per cent SAF by 2030, Airbus said.

Reduction of up to 90 per cent in CO2 emissions

“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 per cent SAF in our helicopters, a fact that would mean a reduction of up to 90 per cent in CO2 emissions alone,” said Stefan Thome, Executive Vice President, Engineering and Chief Technical Officer, Airbus Helicopters.

The use of SAF is one way Airbus Helicopters hopes to achieve its ambition of reducing CO2 emissions from its helicopters by 50 per cent by 2030. Airbus said a key benefit of using this new fuel is that it allows the aircraft to minimise its carbon footprint while maintaining the same flight performance.

Japanese milestone

Earlier this month, Airbus Helicopters in Japan and Japan’s leading helicopter operator, Nakanihon Air (NNK), jointly performed the country’s first ever helicopter flight powered with SAF.

NNK’s H215 helicopter conducted a 30-minute flight at Nagoya Airport in Aichi Prefecture today.

Future fleets

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 to pave the way toward 100 per cent SAF flights for future fleets.

All Airbus commercial aircraft and helicopters are certified to fly with up to a 50 per cent blend of SAF

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