The A400M Airlifter Nails First Flight Partially Powered by Sustainable Fuel

An A400M known as Grizzly 5 flew with SAF in one of its four engines 6 photos
Photo: Airbus
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One of the most popular multi-role airlifters currently in operation has successfully flown for about an hour with SAF (sustainable aviation fuel) in one of its engines. This means that “clean” military operations are one step closer to becoming reality.
More than 100 Airbus A400M are in service today, around the world. If the aircraft and its engines will become certified for the use of SAF, the global benefit for the environment could be huge. This is what Airbus and EuroProp International, who makes the airlifter’s TP400-D6 engines, are striving for. They are working together for 100% SAF certification, and this first flight test is a major step in that direction.

Airbus announced that the test flight was successfully completed this summer. An A400M was loaded with a blend of 29% SAF in one of its engines. The other three ran on conventional jet fuel. The type of alternative fuel that was used is known as HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids) and the goal was to determine its effect on one engine, compared to the performance of the engines with standard fuel.

No modifications were made to the engine, since HEFA is a drop-in fuel, and the results were promising. It seems that the aircraft’s performance was not diminished and that the engine wasn’t negatively impacted.

The particular A400M that carried out this pioneering test, the MSN4, is affectionately called Grizzly 4. It’s been in service for more than a decade, and it’s actually very close to retiring, with almost 2,000 flight hours under its belt. This reliable aircraft was selected by the Military Air Systems unit of the Airbus Defense and Space division, and it started what will be a complex flight test campaign back in July.

With green jet fuel in one of its engines, the old Grizzly 4 flew from the San Pablo plant runway in Seville towards the North of Huelva, then made it back to the facility. The flight lasted for more than one hour. It was the first SAF demonstration for both the A400M and the TP400-D6 engine.

A remarkable milestone, this was just the beginning. The multi-role airlifter will be joined by the C295 and the A330 MRTT for more SAF-powered flight tests in the following months.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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