Civil Helicopters News

A Bell 505 Flew for the First Time Using 100% SAF

A Bell 505 Flew for the First Time Using 100% SAF

Bell Textron has completed its first flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on a Bell 505 in the U.S. state of Texas. The company says that it is the first time that a single-engine helicopter has flown using 100% SAF.

Bell 505’s engine provider Safran Helicopter Engines, SAF supplier Neste, fuel system component supplier GKN Aerospace and Marathon Petroleum Corp. subsidiary Virent Inc. all took part in the experimental practice on sustainability.

“This flight is a monumental achievement for sustainability and decarbonization in the rotorcraft industry,” said Michael Thacker, Executive Vice President, Commercial Business, Bell.

Current regulations only permit a 50/50 mix of SAF and Jet A1 fuel for aircraft. Valentin Safir, Executive Vice President, Programs, Safran Helicopter Engines said the company aims to certify the use of 100% SAF, which will reduce carbon lifecycle emissions by up to 80%.

The major challenge in adopting 100% SAF is the lack of a component called “aromatics” in SAF, which is made from cooking oil and other bio-based feedstocks. Virent managed to add this aromatics component made from renewable plant sugars to Neste’s SAF product.

When companies in the aviation industry are taking steps towards carbon reduction, Textron has set a goal to cut 20% of greenhouse gas emissions across the company among other sustainability initiatives.

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