Leonardo’s AW149 helicopter has taken to the skies using a blend of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) on a flight from Bristol Airport to Yeovil.

The AW149 – Leonardo’s offer to the UK Ministry of Defence for its New Medium Helicopter requirement – left Bristol earlier this month for its return journey to the company’s UK helicopter facility in Yeovil. Dependent upon the SAF blend used, life cycle carbon emissions can be reduced by up to 80 per cent when compared to traditional jet fuel.

“Part of our journey to a greener future”

Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters UK, said: “This is just part of our journey to a greener future; as the world faces an increasing climate emergency, innovation, technology and skills will be needed to rise to the challenges of our modern world.”

AW149 demonstrator landing at Thorne House

“As a company, we are part of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s working group with industry partners on sustainable aviation towards net zero emissions.

“Our efforts to minimise our environmental footprint are constant and are increasing. We are investing in next generation technologies and the workforce of tomorrow to remain at the forefront of new rotorcraft design, manufacture and support.”

“A few examples are the tiltrotor programmes we have in place (AW609 and Clean Sky 2 NextGen Tiltrotor) which will deliver greater efficiency by reducing flight time (and therefore emissions) thanks to their turboprop performance in horizontal flight, for example for point-to-point connection.”

“Climate emergency demands ambitious response”

Jane Cumisky, Head of Sustainability for Leonardo UK, was also present for the flight. She said: “We know that the aviation industry is a key contributor of CO2 emissions and we’re committed to accelerating the advancement and adoption of SAF. We recognise the need for change and we are committed to a greener future. That means being conscious of our own operations and of the products we build, and of the services we enable for our customers. Our efforts to minimise our environmental footprint are constant and will continue for the foreseeable future.

“Leonardo has graduates in the South West and throughout the UK who are very motivated – not only by engineering, but by green engineering and green solutions. They will be at the heart of our transition to a greener future, for our business and for the world of tomorrow.

“The climate emergency demands an ambitious response by UK businesses. This is why Leonardo UK is going a step further and has committed to net zero carbon emissions from our own operations, by 2030.

“This ambitious, but we think achievable, goal is part of our recently published Carbon Reduction Plan, a public pledge to make this essential measure a reality.”

Following the flight, Leonardo was again confirmed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI), ranking first for the Aerospace & Defence industry, confirming the company’s leadership for the second consecutive year. The company is working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN) by leveraging its technological innovation and core competencies.

Video: courtesy Leonardo

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