Bell Textron announced on Thursday that the Bell 505 helicopter performed a flight fueled with 100% SAF, the sustainable aviation fuel.
It is the first time in history that a single-turbine helicopter has flown only with SAF. Until now, only aircraft with more engines had accomplished the feat.
“This flight is a monumental achievement for sustainability and decarbonization in the rotorcraft industry,” said Michael Thacker, executive vice president, Commercial Business, Bell.
“Showcasing a single engine aircraft’s flight capabilities with 100% SAF signals Bell’s commitment to alternative fuel usage and builds on its sustainability practices in its flight operations.”
The project had the participation of partners such as Safran Helicopter Engines, which supplies the Arrius 2R engine, GKN Aerospace, the fuel system component supplier, Neste, the SAF supplier, and Virent, that manufactures renewable fuels and chemicals.
Bell noted that the flight-prepared fuel differs from other SAF products by using a so-called “aromatic component” derived from renewable vegetable sugars instead of petroleum, as in other sustainable fuels based on used cooking oil.
The aromatic component is required to meet current jet fuel specifications, according to the company.
The Bell 505 is the entry-level helicopter from the manufacturer controlled by the Textron group. The company’s goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2025.