Airbus H225 makes first helicopter flight with 100 per cent SAF

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An Airbus H225 has undergone the first helicopter flight with 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) powering the rotorcraft’s Safran Makila 2 engines.

Airbus H225 helicopter
Airbus H225 helicopter - Copyright © Thierry Rostang

This flight follows an H225 flying with one SAF-powered Makila 2 engine in November 2021 and is part of a campaign aimed at understanding the impact of SAF on the helicopter's systems. Tests are expected to continue on other types of helicopters with different fuel and engine architectures with a view to certify the use of 100 per cent SAF by 2030.“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 100 per cent SAF in our helicopters, a fact that would mean a reduction of up to 90 per cent in CO2 emissions alone," said Stefan Thome, executive vice president, Engineering and Chief Technical Officer, Airbus Helicopters.

Airbus Helicopters is aiming to halve CO2 emissions from its platforms by 2030. The company said that one of the main benefits of SAF is that it allows the aircraft to minimise its carbon footprint while maintaining the same flight performance.According to the Waypoint 2050 report, the use of SAF in aviation could account for 50-75 per cent of the CO2 reduction needed in the air transport industry to reach net carbon emissions by 2050. SAF production currently accounts for 0.1 per cent of total aviation fuel production, but this figure is expected to increase to meet growing demand from operators and upcoming SAF usage mandates.In June 2021, Airbus Helicopters launched the SAF User Group with the intention of bringing all stakeholders together to work on ways to accelerate the use of blended  SAF kerosene and to pave the way toward 100 per cent SAF flights for future fleets. All Airbus commercial aircraft and helicopters are certified to fly with up to a 50 per cent blend of SAF, but the overall aim is to achieve certification of 100 per cent SAF by 2030.