Pilatus has launched a strategic cooperation with solar fuels producer Synhelion, with the Swiss aircraft manufacturer to take a undisclosed sized stake in the company as well as utilising the fuel in its own aircraft “in the medium-term”.

“We are firmly convinced that sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will be a lasting feature of aviation operations in the future, and this is our way of making a further essential contribution,” commented Hansueli Loosi, chairman of the Pilatus Board of Directors. Although Pilatus aircraft are already certified to use SAF at a 50% blend, the manufacturer notes that existing variants of the fuel (produced mainly from biomass or waste products) “will never be available in sufficient quantities, now or in the future”.

“Unfortunately, there is not enough sustainable aviation fuel on the market available at the moment – eg for our own test flights or customer demo flights here at our headquarters,” elaborated a spokesperson for Pilatus, who added that “a corresponding [fuel allocation] contingent for Pilatus is part of this agreement”.

Co-founder and co-CEO of Synhelion Philipp Furler added that his company were “extremely proud to have Pilatus as a partner and shareholder,” with the two hoping to “roll our sustainable solar fuels to the entire Pilatus customer fleet within the next ten years”.

Synhelion’s proprietary production process includes “unique technology to produce syngas,” with the manufacturer stating it has “solved key challenges in the transformation of solar radiation into process heat and in thermal energy storage”. Construction of a first commercial plant in Spain will commence in 2025, with Synhelion currently targeting a production cost below €1 per litre by 2030; “competitive with other sustainable fuel technologies”.

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