First Airbus Helicopter Powered by 100 Percent SAF Takes to the Skies

For the first time, an Airbus H225 performed a test flight with both of its Makila 2 engines powered by 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). This significant milestone takes Airbus a step closer to certifying the use of unblended SAF for its helicopters by 2030.
Airbus H225 helicopter performs flight powered by 100 percent SAF 7 photos
Photo: Airbus
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Although SAF isn't used on a large scale yet, several big players in the industry are betting on the widespread adoption of this green fuel. The Waypoint 2050 report shows that the SAF production accounts for just 0.1 percent of global jet fuel.

However, that percentage is expected to drastically increase in the next few years to meet the aviation industry's goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. SAF represents the quickest path that aerospace companies can take in order to reach that objective since this fuel allows aircraft to minimize their carbon footprint, all while retaining the same flight performance.

"SAF is an important pillar of Airbus Helicopters' decarbonisation strategy because it provides immediate CO2 reduction with no negative impact on the performance of the helicopter," said Stefan Thome, Executive Vice President, Engineering and Chief Technical Officer, Airbus Helicopters.

Currently, Airbus' helicopters are certified to fly with a 50 percent blend of SAF mixed with kerosene. By the end of this decade, the company hopes to have all of its helicopters certified to run only on 100 percent SAF.

To achieve its goal, Airbus Helicopters established the SAF User Group in 2021. The aim was to bring all stakeholders together to collaborate on strategies that will accelerate the use of unblended green fuel.

Last year in November, the company's H225 successfully flew with one SAF-powered Makila 2 engine. Now, the recent milestone saw the helicopter fly with both of its engines fueled by the unblended fuel, which was made from used cooking oil provided by TotalEnergies.

This flight campaign comes after earlier unblended SAF bench tests conducted by Safran Helicopter Engines at its Bordes factory. According to Airbus, all of these tests will provide crucial data that will help the company better understand the technical challenges involved in using 100 percent SAF.

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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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