Safran Helicopter Engines has started using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at its Fareham facility in the United Kingdom on a permanent basis, initially with the currently available mix of 38% SAF and subsequently with the maximum permitted blend of 50%.
Image courtesy Safran
It is the first Safran Helicopter Engines site outside France to use SAF in its engine test cells and now a leading aerospace site worldwide in this field. The SAF is produced by Neste from 100% renewable waste and residue raw materials, like used cooking oil.
Keith Bethell, Director Helicopters from the UK MOD's Defence Equipment and Support organisation, kindly agreed to launch this historic first test, which was run on an RTM322 engine from one of the Royal Navy's Merlin helicopters. He said: "DE&S is fully committed to playing our part in achieving net zero carbon emissions and environmental sustainability by 2050. We are delighted to be working with our industry partners, actively contributing to the decarbonisation of aviation. This test by Safran today is a great example of the initiatives being taken to achieve environmentally sustainable aviation."
Safran Helicopter Engines has set itself the goal of reducing carbon emissions at all its sites worldwide by incorporating this type of fuel on all its test benches. Since last June, the manufacturer has been using SAF at all its sites in France, initially at a level of 10% of total aviation fuel usage, with a target of 50% by 2025.
Nick Earl, Safran Helicopter Engines UK CEO, commented: "We strongly believe in SAF and, in parallel to deploying it at our own site, we are working closely with helicopter operators to assist them to make a smooth transition to SAF. With this commitment to incorporate the maximum allowable SAF blend percentage, SafranHE UK is proud to be at the forefront of the decarbonisation of our industry, ahead of the regulation and above the existing standards."
Jonathan Wood, Vice President Renewable Aviation from Neste, a strategic supplier of SAF to Safran, added: "We are delighted to be working together with Safran as we share the ambition to contribute to the development and adoption of SAF usage in aviation. SAF is key to enabling the aviation industry achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2050. SAF is a proven solution with clear climate benefits and it is in use today, in particular in the UK. We are ready to support the UK government's policy ambitions to increase the use of SAF."
All Safran's helicopter engines are already certified to operate on up to 50% SAF and its objective is to certify the use of 100% SAF, resulting in CO2 emissions reductions of up to 80% (Calculated with established life cycle assessment methodologies, such as CORSIA methodology). In September 2021, Safran conducted a ground test campaign for a Makila 2 running on 100% SAF, which recently led to flight tests in an Airbus H225 in November last year. At the same time, Safran Helicopter Engines also supported the first flight of a Leonardo helicopter using SAF, an AW149 powered by its Aneto-1 K turbines.