Thursday, December 8

Airbus flies, for the first time, a helicopter using fuel derived from cooking oil: SAF as a cleaner alternative


Airbus has managed to get one of its helicopters, an H225 with a Makila 2 engine, complete your first flight on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)an alternative to fossil hydrocarbons derived mainly from used cooking oil and other residual fats.

An Airbus H225 had flown in November 2021 with SAF, but at that time the European manufacturer had only fueled one of the helicopter’s engines with this alternative fuel. In this year’s test, on the other hand, he fed both engines with SAF.

This test is considered a milestone by the European manufacturer, which ensures that it is the first time a helicopter’s entire propulsion system has operated at 100% SAF since on other occasions fuel mixture has been used.

Road to carbon neutrality

Previously, Airbus had also managed to run an Airbus A380, the giant of the air that has stopped manufacturing in favor of smaller alternatives, with 100% SAF. Of course, operating only one of its original Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines.

In this sense, it should be noted that one of the advantages offered by the SAF is that aircraft do not have to be modified to run on this fuela very important aspect to take into account when promoting its deployment from the economic point of view.

Aircraft do not have to be modified to work with SAF

Many airlines are on the path to “carbon neutrality”, and Airbus has certified all of its commercial aircraft and helicopters to fly with up to a 50% SAF blend, and aims to achieve 100% certification by 2030.

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However, much progress still needs to be made. Today, the SAF represents the minuscule figure of the 1% of total aviation fuel productionwith the French petrochemical group TotalEnergies being one of the main manufacturers.

The truth is that the effects of climate change are becoming more and more evident and to limit the advance of this phenomenon it is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to ATAG, aviation accounts for 2.1% of total CO2 emissions.

Faced with this scenario, a large number of players in the aviation industry have committed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050a necessary challenge to protect the environment, according to the United Nations Organization.

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There are many alternatives to achieve this goal, but not all of them seem viable. Roll-Royce’s Spirit of Innovation electric plane is very good at reaching breakneck speeds, but it falls short of meeting the real needs of commercial aviation.

Other ideas, such as traveling using solar energy, as the Solar Impulse II does, still need many years of development. Thus, the SAF is presented as one of the most promising alternatives. According to the Waypoint 2050 report, this fuel could represent 50 to 75% CO2 reduction necessary to achieve the necessary carbon neutrality in the aviation industry.

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