• Airbus flew the H225 with one engine running on only SAF. (Airbus Helicopters)
    Airbus flew the H225 with one engine running on only SAF. (Airbus Helicopters)

Airbus Helicopters this week announced they had conducted the first flight of a helicopter on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

An H225 flew from Airbus' Marignane headquarters in France, with only SAF powering one of the Safran Makila 2 engines. The flight marks the start of a flight program aiming to assess the impact of unblended SAF on helicopter systems in anticipation of certifying SAF blends that exceed the current 50% limit.

The H225 test helicopter flew with an unblended SAF derived from used cooking oil, provided by TotalEnergies, which offers a net 90% CO2 reduction compared to regular jet fuel.

“While all Airbus helicopters are certified to fly with up to a 50% blend of SAF mixed with kerosene, it is our company’s ambition to have its helicopters certified to fly with 100% SAF within the decade," said Stefan Thome, Executive Vice President, Engineering and Chief Technical Officer, Airbus Helicopters. "Today’s flight is an important first step towards this goal.

“SAF is an important pillar of Airbus Helicopters’ decarbonisation strategy because it provides immediate CO2 reduction with no negative impact on the performance of the helicopter.

“I thank our partners Safran Helicopter Engines and TotalEnergies for their important collaboration in making today’s flight a reality. Further cooperation among all industry stakeholders is essential to overcome the challenges associated with implementing SAF widely and to make real progress in reducing the aviation industry’s CO2 emissions."

The flight campaign, which follows earlier unblended SAF bench tests performed by Safran at its Bordes plant, is designed to give a greater understanding of the technical challenges associated with the use of 100% SAF.

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