Bell Textron announced today (Feb. 21) that its turboshaft-powered Model 505 is the first single-engine helicopter to fly using 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Bell credits its cooperation with Safran Helicopter Engines, refiner Neste, GKN Aerospace and Virent Energy Systems (a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corp.) for making the first SAF-fueled flight of the Bell 505 possible.
Bell currently uses SAF for its own training fleet and demonstration aircraft operations. Bell also coordinates with Safran Engines, manufacturer of the Bell 205’s Arrius 2R powerplant, to guide customers in their efforts to convert to and monitor SAF testing. “This flight supports Textron’s ‘Achieve 2025 Sustainable Footprint’ goal for 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the enterprise, among other sustainability initiatives,” according to the company.
Michael Thacker, Bell executive vice president for commercial business, said, “Showcasing a single-engine aircraft’s flight capabilities with 100 percent SAF signals Bell’s commitment to alternative fuel usage and builds on its sustainability practices in its flight operations.”
“SAF is one of the key pillars in our strategy to decarbonize the helicopter industry,” added Valentin Safir, executive vice-president of programs for Safran Helicopter Engines. “Our engines are certified to operate on up to 50 percent SAF, and our objective is to certify in the coming years the use of 100 percent SAF, which can potentially result in carbon lifecycle emissions reductions by up to 80 percent.”