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Business Air News Bulletin
Business Air News Bulletin
The monthly news publication for aviation professionals.
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The monthly news publication for aviation professionals.

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Test of all-SAF heli flight shows Jet AI-equivalence
The first wholly SAF-powered flight of an AW139 with PT6C-67C engines has taken place at Leonardo's facility in Italy. Tests showed no significant differences with the new fuel compared to the use of Jet A1.
Leonardo MD Gian Piero Cutillo and P&WC president Maria Della Posta.
Read this story in our January 2024 printed issue.

Leonardo has successfully completed the first flight of an AW139 using 100 per cent SAF in both P&WC PT6C-67C engines. The 75 minute flight and ground tests, which took place at Leonardo's facility in Cascina Costa di Samarate, Italy evaluated engine performance at multiple power variations and demonstrated no significant differences in the response to the new fuel compared with the use of Jet A1 fuel.

"This first flight effectively demonstrates engine functionality and is an important part of our long-standing efforts to support the development of future specifications for 100 per cent SAF, a core part of our sustainable propulsion strategy," says P&WC president Maria Della Posta. "This is the first time a PT6 engine has been flown using 100 per cent SAF, marking this as a significant milestone for the unrivalled engine series. Proving the engine's capability with drop-in SAF provides the foundation for the future of the PT6 in sustainable aviation and builds on its legacy of success."

"The results of this first demonstration flight are a further testament to the outstanding design of the AW139, its high performance and the excellent relationship we have with Pratt & Whitney Canada," says Leonardo managing director Gian Piero Cutillo. "This flight demonstrates another tangible benefit of the most successful helicopter in its class and provides a positive way forward to the many operators carrying out missions in all weather conditions as they aim for more ambitious sustainability goals."

This marks a historic first for both Leonardo's helicopters and the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 engine family. Earlier this year in-service AW139 helicopters carried out flights with SAF, blended with traditional jet fuel under the current certification standards, in Japan, Malaysia and most recently the UAE. All main civil-certified types within the Leonardo's helicopter product range are certified for operations using SAF with a blended ratio of up to 50 per cent.

The demonstration flight is a further testament to the outstanding design and performance of the AW139 and its systems, and this result shows another tangible benefit of the aircraft's possibilities to the many operators carrying out missions in all weather and environmental conditions as they aim for more ambitious sustainability goals.

Cutillo adds: "With this latest result we are demonstrating how we can support the rapid evolution of sustainability requirements in aviation as the industry aims at a greater use of SAF in operations. We did so with the world-class AW139 testifying that this technology allows more sustainable operations, keeping the same level of high performance, significantly contributing to lower CO2 emissions. We're committed to joining forces with aviation partners and suppliers, authorities, energy leaders and rotorcraft service providers to incentivise the use of SAF to sustain carbon footprint reduction."

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