Safran Helicopter Engines has announced the completion of the first helicopter engine test campaign to use 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). At its Bordes site in south-west France, a Makila 2 engine was run on a biofuel produced by TotalEnergies from used cooking oil.

The test campaign evaluated the operational impact on a helicopter engine of using only SAF. To do this, Safran utilised a special facility known as Bearcat (Banc d’Essai Avancé pour la Recherche en Combustion et Aérothermique des Turbomachines), an advanced test bench for turbomachinery combustion and aerothermal research.

Franck Saudo, CEO of Safran Helicopter Engines, commented: “After the first flight of a rescue helicopter using 40% SAF in June, and the fuel’s gradual introduction for engine tests at our sites since July, we are now taking a new step toward using fuel made entirely from renewable sources. This test campaign is a key step in the realisation of future test flights with our helicopter partners.

“The use of sustainable fuels among helicopter operators and at our sites is a promising lever to significantly reduce CO2 emissions over the entire life cycle of our products.”

Virginie Merini, senior vice-president, renewable fuels for TotalEnergies, said: “By offering our customers like Safran sustainable aviation biofuels produced in France, we are meeting a strong demand from the aviation industry to reduce its carbon footprint.

“The development of biofuels is one of the main thrusts of TotalEnergies’ multi-energy strategy to meet the challenge of decarbonising the transportation sector. This is fully in line with the company’s climate change ambition of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.”

Safran engines are already certified to operate with up to 50% SAF. Moving to 100% could mean a reduction in CO2 emissions of up to 80% compared to conventional fuels.

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