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Leonardo, Pratt & Whitney Canada achieve 1st 100% SAF flight with PT6C-67C-powered AW139 helicopter

Photo: Leonardo

Leonardo and Pratt & Whitney Canada announced Dec. 7 the successful completion of the first flight for a AW139 intermediate twin helicopter, powered by PT6C-67C engines, using 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Accomplished at Leonardo’s facility in Cascina Costa di Samarate, Italy, on Nov. 21, the 75-minute flight and ground tests evaluated engine performance with multiple power variation and other systems.

Photo: Leonardo

The test showed an outstanding response to the new fuel with no significant differences compared to the use of Jet A1 fuel.

This goal 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 United Arab Emirates.

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 percent.

“The 100 percent SAF demonstration flight of the AW139 is a further testament to the outstanding design and performance of the aircraft and its systems, ranking as the most successful helicopter in its class with an unrivalled and growing impact,” Leonardo stated. “With more than 1,100 AW139s in service worldwide and almost 4 million flight hours logged to date, 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.”

Gian Piero Cutillo, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters, said, “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 incentivize the use of SAF to sustain carbon-footprint reduction.”

Maria Della Posta, president of Pratt & Whitney Canada, added, “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 percent SAF, a core part of our sustainable-propulsion strategy. This is the first time a PT6 engine has flown using 100 percent SAF. This milestone builds on its unrivalled legacy of success and underlines how the engine family can contribute to a more sustainable future in aviation. Since entering the market 60 years ago, the PT6 engine family has clocked more than 500 million flight hours, 8.3 million of which were on PT6C turboshaft engines.”

The world’s most important helicopter program since its certification in 2004, the AW139 has logged orders for over 1,300 units from more than 290 operators in over 80 countries to date.

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