For the first time, sustainable aviation fuel for German rescue helicopter

Per la prima volta carburante sostenibile per aviazione per l'elicottero di soccorso tedesco

For the first time, a rescue helicopter has flown powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), achieving a new milestone in international aviation.

Operated by the German non-profit organization ADAC Luftrettung, the Airbus H145 rescue helicopter had its Arriel 2E engines ceremonially refueled with biofuel, a type of SAF, at the air rescue station at Munich’s Harlaching Clinic in the presence of the ADAC Foundation’s board of directors, as well as the managing directors and top management of ADAC Luftrettung, the engine manufacturer Safran Helicopter Engines, the helicopter manufacturer Airbus Helicopters, and the energy company TotalEnergies. Together, these companies will be a driving force in the decarbonisation of helicopter flight by developing alternatives to conventional aviation fuels.

The H145 was using a second-generation biofuel – the SAF of choice of the aviation industry – which reduces CO2 emissions up to 90 % compared to its fossil equivalent, because it is produced from residual and waste materials from the circular economy such as used cooking oils and fats. As a result, the fuel has no impact on agricultural food production.

The fuel used for the first rescue helicopter flight in Munich was produced by TotalEnergies at its facility in France from used cooking oil, without using any virgin plant-based oil. With this SAF, the ADAC Luftrettung fleet could achieve a 33 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, which, with more than 50,000 rescue missions and more than 3.3 million kilometers flown per year, equates to a reduction of around 6,000 tons of CO2.

ADAC Luftrettung and engine manufacturer Safran Helicopter Engines share the same ambition to contribute to the development of sustainable aviation fuel. To this effect they are launching a project with one ADAC rescue helicopter in Cologne. The project will study all aspects of biofuel usage on the H145, with an operational campaign to start as early as summer 2021.

Following the biofuel premiere, the managing directors of ADAC Luftrettung and Safran Helicopter Engines, Frédéric Bruder and Franck Saudo, signed a long-term agreement on SAF, which envisages increasing the blending ratio of biofuel to as much as 100 percent in the coming years and subsequently also promoting the use of synthetic e-fuel, also known as Power-to-Liquid (PTL), another drop-in alternative to fossil fuels. PTL refers to the generation of liquid fuels produced using electrical energy from renewable sources, which, along with the use of biofuel, will allow aviation to get closer to climate-neutral aviation.

Biofuel is currently certified and approved for aviation use in a maximum blend of 50 percent with conventional kerosene of the JET-A1 type. The ADAC rescue helicopter was flown on a 40 percent blend.

Source: ADAC Luftrettung

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