Airbus was the first aircraft manufacturer to fly a helicopter with both engines running on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), typically derived from biomaterials such as used fat, vegetable oil and other degradable waste. The H225 helicopter used Safran Makila 2 engines.
The recent flight is in line with Airbus’ policy to achieve certification of commercial aircraft and helicopters operating on green, sustainable fuels by 2030 and prepares to achieve a 50% reduction in carbon emissions without the affecting the quality of flights.
In November, the company tested a similar helicopter, but at that time only one engine was running on the SAF. In March 2022, it also tested the A380 Jumbo Jet airliner, whose engines also ran on green fuel. The main goal is not only to demonstrate the ability of engines to use such fuels without design changes, but also to evaluate the performance of all systems when using SAF. Numerous tests on different types of helicopters with different fuel options and engine configurations are planned for the future.
“Sustainable jet fuel” is made by recycling food waste and other raw materials, from used cooking oils to carbon dioxide from the air and agricultural raw materials. One of the advantages of SAF is that these fuels are almost identical to those derived from fossil fuels. Today, no more than 50% SAF can be used blended with conventional jet fuel without engine modifications, which is very effective in reducing CO2 emissions over the life cycle of aircraft. But Airbus wants to do more.
Airbus said the deployment of two engines simultaneously at the SAF is a milestone for the helicopter industry. Firstly, this is the next step in Airbus’ journey towards certification for the exclusive use of green fuels and secondly, it will reduce CO2 emissions.2 up to 90%.