Airbus is working with the German Air Force to increase the sustainability of its aircraft fleet.

The European aircraft manufacturer is working to provide the Luftwaffe with a technical allowance to commence A400M flight trials with loads of up to 50 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in the near-term.

Airbus said in its announcement that it plans to do an initial test flight of an A400M aircraft with a fuel load of up to 50% SAF. This initial test flight will be conducted with one engine to assess the aircraft’s overall behavior. 

If the one-engine test flight is successful, Airbus expects to continue with four engine trials in 2023. Once testing activities are completed on the basis of four engines, the A400M platform will formally be allowed for customers with access to 50% SAF.

The A400M is a military transport aircraft designed by Airbus Defence and Space. It is capable of transporting up to 37 tonnes of cargo or 116 soldiers with their equipment over 4,500 kilometers. 

“The Luftwaffe’s objective is to launch a transformation towards sustainability of their fleet,” chief executive officer of Airbus Defense and Space Mike Schoellhorn said in a statement. “Their mission is ours. We are gladly supporting these important efforts, not only for the A400M but their entire fleet of Airbus aircraft, ranging from VIP transport to fighter jets.” 

Chief of German Air Force Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz said: “Switching from petroleum-based kerosene to sustainable fuels plays a big part in aviation’s efforts to cut CO2 emissions. Our government aircraft are already cleared for SAF. Working closely with the industry we are eager to finally certify the A400M as well. Looking into the future we are supporting all activities to introduce SAF for our entire fleet including fast jet aircraft.”

Germany is Airbus’ first customer nation to launch a gradual transformation to SAF for their operational A400M fleet, of which the Luftwaffe has a total of 53 units on order.

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