NH90 Helicopter Flies on Sustainable Fuel
With support from Safran Helicopter Engines, TotalEnergies, and Airbus Helicopters, France’s defense procurement agency (Direction Générale de l’Armement - DGA) carries out the first test flight of an Airbus NH90 in which one of its two RTM322 engines ran on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The fuel meets the aviation industry's objective of accelerating decarbonization without making any modifications to the aircraft, engine or logistics infrastructure (known as a drop-in fuel).
The fuel was produced by TotalEnergies from used cooking oil using HEFA (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) technology and has a carbon footprint four times smaller than that of a fossil fuel. As such it meets the European Union's 65% abatement requirement for sustainable fuels.
The test flight took place Feb. 3, 2023, at the test centre DGA Essais en vol in Istres, marking a first for a military helicopter with such high content of SAF and without any engine modification. A bench test at Safran Helicopter Engines' Bordes facility validated the use of the fuel on the RTM322 in December 2022.
Christian Caneilles, head of Heavy Helicopter Engines programs at Safran Helicopter Engines, says, "This is an important step in our roadmap for the large-scale deployment of SAF, which will kick-start a decarbonization process within the armed forces to gradually reduce the use of fossil fuels.”
SAF is one of Safran Helicopter Engines' initiatives aiming to reduce CO2 emissions from in-service engines. Its turbine range is already certified to run on 50% SAF. The company is working to certify operations with 100% SAF, while assessing any operational impact with its partners and customers.
When a 100% incorporation level is achieved, SAF offers a potential reduction in CO2 emissions of 80%.
For more information, visit www.safran-helicopter-engines.com.