Safran Helicopter Engines has started using SAF at its Fareham facility in the UK on a permanent basis, initially with the currently available mix of 38 per cent SAF and subsequently with the maximum permitted blend of 50 per cent. It is the first Safran Helicopter Engines site outside France to use SAF in its engine test cells.
The SAF is produced by Neste from 100 per cent renewable waste and residue raw materials.
UK MOD's defence equipment and support (DE&S) organisation director helicopters Keith Bethell 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 says: “DE&S is fully committed to playing our part in achieving net zero carbon emissions and environmental sustainability by 2050. 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 per cent of total aviation fuel usage, with a target of 50 per cent by 2025.
CEO Nick Earl comments: “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.”
Neste vice president renewable aviation Jonathan Wood adds: “SAF is key to enabling the aviation industry achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2050. It 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 per cent SAF and its objective is to certify the use of 100 per cent SAF, resulting in CO2 emissions reductions of up to 80 per cent. In September 2021, Safran conducted a ground test campaign for a Makila 2 running on 100 per cent SAF, which 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-1K turbines.