Airbus Carries Out First Helicopter Flight Powered by SAF in Japan

Airbus' H215 completed first SAF-powered flight in Japan 6 photos
Photo: Airbus
Airbus' H215 completed first SAF-powered flight in JapanAirbus' H215 completed first SAF-powered flight in JapanAirbus' H215 completed first SAF-powered flight in JapanAirbus H215Airbus' H215
Airbus teamed up with Nakanihon Air (NNK), one of Japan's largest helicopter operators, to conduct the country's first helicopter flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). For the SAF flight trial, an H215 aircraft was used.
As part of the Super Puma family, the H215 is a heavyweight, twin-engine helicopter known for its outstanding performance. Over the years, it has demonstrated its ability to operate in some of the harshest environments.

Powered by Makila 1A1 engines, the rotorcraft is outfitted with cutting-edge technology and the latest flight management system, which includes a glass cockpit avionics system and the 4-axis autopilot from Airbus' H225. It's a multi-role aircraft that can perform a variety of tasks and be used in different missions, including law enforcement, firefighting, disaster relief, and passenger transport.

Now, the proven H215 has reached a new milestone. On June 1st, the helicopter spun its blades at the Nagoya Airport in Aichi Prefecture. Fueled by 600 liters (158 gallons) of "SUSTEO 10", the aircraft flew for 30 minutes before returning to the airport. Produced by Euglena, a Japanese biotechnology company, SUSTEO is a renewable jet fuel that has 10% SAF blended with Jet A-1 fuel.

"Today's SAF flight trial is very important for our company as we work on the reduction of the CO2 emitted during flights in an effort to tackle climate change issues. The locally produced SAF is an immediate approach towards reducing carbon emissions for the helicopter market," said Hajime Futagami, President of NNK.

Today's flight marks a significant step towards the company's goal of certifying unblended SAF for commercial use by the end of this decade. Currently, all Airbus helicopters are certified to fly with a blend of 50% SAF mixed with kerosene.

The company is making great efforts to make 100% SAF-powered flights a reality. Last year, an H225 helicopter completed a flight with one of its Makila 2 engines powered entirely by SAF. Because SAF is a far cleaner alternative to conventional jet fuel, flying all helicopters on unblended SAF could cut carbon emissions by up to 80%.

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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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