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Fri, Jun 24, 2022

Airbus Helicopter Flies on 100% Sustainable Fuel

Green, The Color of Money

An Airbus H225 has performed the word’s first helicopter flight powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The flight, which saw both the H225’s Safran Makila 2 engines powered by SAF, follows a November 2021 undertaking in which an H225 flew with one of its Makila 2 engines operating on SAF and the other on conventional jet fuel.

The flights are part of an ongoing campaign to understand the impact of SAF use on aircraft gas-turbine systems. Testing is expected to continue on various helicopter types with different fuel and engine architectures with the aim of certifying the use of 100% SAF by 2030.

According to the Waypoint 2050 report—a voluminous and convoluted amphigory that heralds itself as a collaboration of experts from across the aviation sector looking at how the industry can accelerate working together to contribute to the world’s climate action mission—the use of SAF in aviation could account for 50-75% of the CO2 reduction needed to halve the air transport industry‘s net carbon emissions by 2050.

While SAF production currently accounts for only 0.1% of total aviation fuel production, this figure is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years to meet both growing demand from operators and upcoming governmental SAF mandates.

In June 2021, Airbus Helicopters launched the SAF User Group with the intention of bringing aerospace stakeholders together to work on means by which to accelerate the use of blended SAF kerosene and define a pathway toward one-hundred-percent SAF flight operations.

Currently, Airbus commercial aircraft and helicopters are certified to operate with up to a fifty-percent blend of SAF and petroleum fuel. The company has set itself the goal of converting the entirety of its products to one-hundred-percent SAF operations by 2030.

Noble intentions and tacit virtue-signaling notwithstanding, the SAF User Group makes no mention of the fact that current production methods require up to 1,300 gallons of water to produce one gallon of biofuel.

Stefan Thome, Executive Vice President, Engineering and Chief Technical Officer, Airbus Helicopters states, “This flight with SAF powering the twin engines of the H225 is an important milestone for the helicopter industry. It marks a new stage in our journey to certify the use of one-hundred-percent SAF in our helicopters, a fact that would mean a reduction of up to 90% in CO2 emissions alone.”

Mr. Thome did not address the cost of one-hundred-percent SAF operations, which—even at today’s bloated oil prices—are up to eight-times higher than aircraft operations utilizing conventional jet fuel.

FMI: www.airbus.com

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