Airbus completes first 100% SAF-powered heli flight


Airbus has completed the first flight of its twin-engine H225 helicopter with both Safran Makila 2 engines powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

“This flight with SAF powering the twin engines of the H225 is an important milestone for the helicopter industry,” said Stefan Thome, executive vice president, Engineering and chief technical officer, Airbus Helicopters. “It marks a new stage in our journey to certify the use of 100% SAF in our helicopters, a fact that would mean a reduction of up to 90% in CO2 emissions alone.”

The flight earlier this month follows an air test in November 2021 when one engine of H225 was powered by SAF. The flight tests are part of a programme designed to improve the understanding of how SAF affects helicopters’ systems. Further tests are planned on other types of helicopters with different fuel and engine systems. Airbus plans to certify the use of 100% SAF by 2030. All Airbus commercial aircraft and helicopters are certified to fly with up to a 50% blend of SAF.

Meanwhile, Airbus Helicopters is relying on SAF as one of its main tools to cut CO2 emissions from its helicopters by 50% by 2030. “One of the main benefits of using this new fuel is that it allows the aircraft to minimise its carbon footprint while maintaining the same flight performance,” said the company.

The widespread use of SAF could account for 50-75% of the CO2 reduction needed to reach net carbon emissions by 2050 in the air transport industry, according to the Waypoint 2050 report. At present, SAF production accounts for only 0.1% of total aviation fuel production. But significant uptake is expected to meet both growing demand from operators and upcoming SAF usage mandates.

Since 2011, SAF has powered more than 360,000 commercial flights worldwide, said the OEM. Currently, SAF represents 0.03% of fuel use and less than 1% of operated flights. (Pictured is the H225 helicopter operating with both Safran Makila 2 engines powered by SAF).

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