A Bell 505 helicopter has become the first single-engine helicopter to fly 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), the company announced.
The flight, which took place on February 21, 2023, was a collaborative effort between Bell Textron, a subsidiary of the American aerospace group Textron, and a number of industry partners.
Safran Helicopter Engines made the Arrius 2R engine that was used in this demonstration flight, while GKN Aerospace supplied components for the fuel system. Finnish energy firm Neste, a leading producer of sustainable aviation fuel, supplied the SAF, while Virent, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum, provided “aromatics”, a fuel additive necessary for biofuels to meet the specifications of aviation fuel.
The Safran Arrius 2R engine is currently only certified to fly with up to 50% SAF, but the French company is working to bring this figure up to 100% in the near future.
The flight took place within the framework of a corporate program called “Achieve 2025 Sustainable Footprint”, where Textron aims to reduce carbon emissions by 20%.
The helicopter maker also highlighted that it is already using SAF regularly in its own training and test flights.