Airbus Helicopters calls on industry to join Sustainable Aviation Fuel User Group

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Airbus Helicopters
(PHOTO: Airbus Helicopters)

https://mromiddleeast.aviationweek.com/en/home.html?utm_source=Barter&utm_medium=Display&utm_campaign=NAM21MME-MS-AsianAviationAirbus Helicopters has issued a call for companies involved in the rotary field to come together to drive the deployment of biofuels through the creation of a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) User Group, which aims at reducing aviation’s impact on citizens and the environment. The move comes after the European manufacturer recently demonstrated how a rescue helicopter could use SAF in flight.

With the SAF User Group, Airbus Helicopters plans to tackle the remaining challenges around biofuels and proactively support the industry’s CO2 reduction commitment, thanks to constant cooperation with partners from all areas of the aviation sector. Through this inclusive approach, the SAF User Group aspires to collectively work on ways to accelerate the use of blended SAF kerosene and to pave the way toward 100 percent SAF flights for future fleets.

“We welcome all helicopter operators, engine manufacturers, fuel system suppliers, energy companies, fuel providers, handling companies, and all other stakeholders in the industry willing to pioneer sustainable aerospace with us,” said Stefan Thomé, executive vice president for engineering and chief technical officer, Airbus Helicopters.

SAF reduces CO2 emissions thanks to the use of residual and waste material such as used vegetable oils and fats. As a result, the fuel has no negative impact on agricultural food production. Biofuels are used under the same performance and safety conditions as conventional fuels, which has made them well-established levers for CO₂ reduction in the aviation industry. All Airbus-made helicopters are currently certified to run with a blend of as much as 50 percent SAF in the kerosene.

First rescue helicopter flies on SAF

A rescue helicopter has flown on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for the first time, achieving a new milestone in international aviation. Operated by the German non-profit organisation ADAC Luftrettung, the Airbus H145 rescue helicopter had its Arriel 2E engines ceremonially refueled with biofuel, a type of SAF, at the air rescue station at Munich’s Harlaching Clinic in the presence of the ADAC Foundation’s board of directors, as well as the managing directors and top management of ADAC Luftrettung, the engine manufacturer Safran Helicopter Engines, the helicopter manufacturer Airbus Helicopters, and the energy company TotalEnergies. Together, these companies will be a driving force in the decarbonisation of helicopter flight by developing alternatives to conventional aviation fuels.

The H145 was using a second-generation biofuel – the SAF of choice of the aviation industry – which reduces CO2 emissions up to 90 percent compared to its fossil equivalent, because it is produced from residual and waste materials from the circular economy such as used cooking oils and fats. As a result, the fuel has no impact on agricultural food production. The fuel used for the first rescue helicopter flight in Munich was produced by TotalEnergies at its facility in France from used cooking oil, without using any virgin plant-based oil. With this SAF, the ADAC Luftrettung fleet could achieve a 33 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, which, with more than 50,000 rescue missions and more than 3.3 million kilometres flown per year, equates to a reduction of around 6,000 tons of CO2.

Airbus-SAF
(PHOTO: Airbus Helicopters)

Following the biofuel premiere, the managing directors of ADAC Luftrettung and Safran Helicopter Engines, Frédéric Bruder and Franck Saudo, signed a long-term agreement on SAF, which envisages increasing the blending ratio of biofuel to as much as 100 percent in the coming years and subsequently also promoting the use of synthetic e-fuel, also known as Power-to-Liquid (PTL), another drop-in alternative to fossil fuels. PTL refers to the generation of liquid fuels produced using electrical energy from renewable sources, which, along with the use of biofuel, will allow aviation to get closer to climate-neutral aviation.

Dr. Andrea David, CEO of the non-profit ADAC Foundation, to which ADAC Luftrettung belongs, says that, “for us, the Sustainable Aviation Fuel pilot project is a first big step on the way to a climate-neutral ADAC Foundation and air rescue service, and our contribution as a non-profit organisation to achieving the climate protection goals of Germany and Europe.”

“We want to be a pioneer in reducing CO2 in emergency medical services with environmentally friendly kerosene. This means we must also develop air rescue technologically so that the use of SAF is future-proof in the longer term. To achieve this, we have strong partners at our side,” adds Frédéric Bruder, managing director of ADAC Luftrettung. “Importantly, SAF is an officially approved fuel, which means that flight and patient safety remain at the highest level.”

Airbus Helicopters acquires MRO ZF Luftfahrttechnik
Airbus Helicopters and ZF Friedrichshafen AG have signed an agreement regarding the acquisition of ZF Luftfahrttechnik GmbH by Airbus Helicopters as part of its strategy to strengthen its maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) capabilities. This step is also a contribution to improving and maintaining the fleet availability of the programmes covered by the ZF Luftfahrttechnik product portfolio. ZF Luftfahrttechnik is currently an MRO service partner for the majority of the German Bundeswehr helicopter fleet. It has also delivered more than 10,000 gearboxes all over the world. It is a supplier of the H135 main gearbox, the tail gearbox of the Tiger helicopter, and has a share in the H145 programme. In 2020, the company achieved revenues of €85.3 million and employed 370 people. ZF Luftfahrttechnik is located in Kassel-Calden.

“By adding ZF Luftfahrttechnik to our portfolio, we will further broaden our range of MRO capabilities and secure additional competences in the area of dynamic systems for Airbus Helicopters, adding value for our global customer base”, said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “With ZF Luftfahrttechnik, we will be able to improve our service offering for our customers including key partners like the German Bundeswehr, thus addressing their MRO needs faster with an increased level of integration. ZF Luftfahrttechnik’s balanced and global business model fits very well into our approach to the worldwide helicopter market.”

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