Airbus has kicked off a new sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) test campaign with the flight of a twin-engine H225 helicopter powered by an engine operating on 100 percent SAF. The test, which Airbus noted was the first of its kind for a helicopter, took place at the company’s headquarters in Marignane, France. The campaign is designed to assess the impact of unblended SAF on the helicopter systems with an eye toward certifying the use of SAF blends that exceed the current 50 percent limit.
“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, Airbus Helicopters executive vice president for engineering and chief technical officer. “Today’s flight is an important first step towards this goal.”
According to the company, the unblended SAF powering one of the aircraft’s Safran Makila 2 engines for the flight was derived from used cooking oil. Airbus stated that the cooking oil-based SAF offers a net 90 percent CO2 reduction compared to regular jet fuel. This week’s test flight follows earlier unblended SAF bench tests conducted by Safran.