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.
“Net 90% carbon dioxide reduction”? Do they count all the petroleum-based inputs to produce various cooking oils? Are all the fuel, pesticides, fertilizers, transportation, processing – all petroleum based to begin with included? Numerous studies have shown that biofuels are usually a net loser or at best a break even proposition when it comes to the carbon footprint. The whole biofuels issue is pure politics with no supportable physics, chemistry, or biology, and intended to buy farm state votes. More than 40% of the US corn crop and a substantial portion of the soybean crop are used in biofuel production and done so strictly because of US EPA and congressional mandates not based upon economics or agronomics, or with attention to supply and demand. If one is interested in or concerned with escalating food costs, the first thing that should be terminated is the biofuels portion of otherwise edible food crops, ditto for rising meat costs, feed the animals with affordable grains and pulses and fly aircraft and drive vehicles with petroleum based materials that are always cheaper and will always be available if the government stays out of the S/D system.
Did you miss the word “used” in conjunction with “cooking oil”? This undermines both your point about biofuel production and your point about inputs. Presumably the cooking oil was produced for food purposes, used for food purposes, and became waste — and then the maker used it as input for Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
The US consumes about 7 million barrels (294 million gallons) of oil for transportation fuels every day. If, say, one quarter of that is kerosene for jet fuel, that would be roughly 75 million gallons of oil daily. For a sustainable alternative to be truly significant, it would need to replace a third of that. I’m not sure we produce 25 million gallons of cooking oil a month. Don’t get me wrong; I support turning waste cooking oil into a useable fuel product just because it eliminates the problem of disposing the stuff. I just question all the hoopla that is being made over SAF as if it will be some savior of the planet. Property processed, cooking oils and other animal waste (beef tallow, etc) can be turned into a high quality diesel substitute that can totally replace the fossil equivalent. It’s just that making it in a significant volume to replace fossil diesel or kerosene is not really practical unless you also use virgin soybean oil or other food grade materials to produce the needed quantity. Even then, it would be much more practical to use it in surface transportation (i.e. trucks, trains, etc.) where the specifications are much less rigorous than for aircraft use. Otherwise, it’s just another press release with little actual value.
What’s the big deal?
Didn’t the Nazis fly on ‘SAF’/non fossil fuel back in WWII?
Also, and this is a radical concept, why not eat food and put Avgas/Jet-A in out aircraft?
Actually, the Germans used another fossil fuel (coal) to produce their avgas and diesel. Germany has plenty of coal, but not much oil. That’s why they invaded the Middle East to gain access to its oil. Some historians credit America’s plentiful oil reserves and the invention of the octane booster tetraethyl lead as a principal reason for our air superiority in the war.
Thanks John. That’s very interesting.
3 hours across stormy North Atlantic and 3 hours back, in IMC, if cannot land at the oil platform?
Need an E on ‘SAF’.