• Airbus Helicopters' H225 SAF test bed. (Airbus)
    Airbus Helicopters' H225 SAF test bed. (Airbus)

French manufacturer Airbus Helicopters announced yesterday that it had successfully flown a twin-engined H225 on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The flight was part of a testing program that has followed on from a flight in November last year when an H225 was flow with one turbine burning SAF and the other one regular turbine fuel.

"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% SAF in our helicopters, a fact that would mean a reduction of up to 90% in CO2 emissions alone."

Airbus Helicopters' says the use of SAF a key driver in achieving their ambition of reducing CO2 emissions from its helicopters by 50% by 2030. One of the main benefits of using this new fuel is that it allows the aircraft to minimise its carbon footprint while maintaining the same flight performance.

Christian Venzal, Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters Australia and New Zealand told Australian Flying that there were still obstacles to the wider adoption of SAF in their helicopter fleet.

"It's now a question of certification," he said, "and after that it's supply. Sustainable aviation fuel is not available everywhere. Technically it's already there, and through our partners Safran, we know it works. The technical aspect is clear, but it's a matter of certification."

Last week, Airbus announced that it had entered a partnership with Qantas to jointly invest $100 million in developing SAF production facilities in Australia.

Australia is currently exporting millions of tonnes of feedstock every year, such as canola and animal tallow, to be made into SAF in other countries.

“Ensuring a sustainable future for our industry has become the priority for Airbus and we are taking up this challenge with partners across the world and from across all sectors," said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.

“The increased use of sustainable aviation fuels will be a key driver to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. But we can’t do this without viable industrial systems to produce and commercialise these energy sources at affordable rates and near to key hubs around the world.

"This is especially true for a country like Australia, which is geographically distant and highly reliant on aviation to remain connected both domestically and internationally.”

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