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Safran deploys SAF to UK facility

Photo: Safran

Safran Helicopter Engines has started using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at its Fareham facility in the U.K. on a permanent basis, initially with the currently available mix of 38 percent SAF and subsequently with the maximum permitted blend of 50 percent. It is the first Safran Helicopter Engines site outside France to use SAF in its engine test cells and now a leading aerospace site worldwide in this field. The SAF is produced by Neste from 100 percent renewable waste and residue raw materials, like used cooking oil.

Keith Bethell, director of helicopters from the U.K. Ministry of Defense’s Defense Equipment and Support organization, agreed to launch this historic first test, which was run on an RTM322 engine from one of the Royal Navy’s Merlin helicopters.

“DE&S is fully committed to playing our part in achieving net zero carbon emissions and environmental sustainability by 2050,” Bethell said. “We are delighted to be working with our industry partners, actively contributing to the decarbonization of aviation. This test by Safran today is a great example of the initiatives being taken to achieve environmentally sustainable aviation.”

Safran Helicopter Engines has set a goal of reducing carbon emissions at all sites worldwide by incorporating this type of fuel on all its test benches. Since last June, the manufacturer has been using SAF at all its sites in France, initially at a level of 10 percent of total aviation fuel usage, with a target of 50 percent by 2025.

“We strongly believe in SAF and, in parallel to deploying it at our own site, we are working closely with helicopter operators to assist them to make a smooth transition to SAF,” said Nick Earl, CEO of Safran Helicopter Engines U.K. “With this commitment to incorporate the maximum allowable SAF blend percentage, Safran Helicopter Engines U.K. is proud to be at the forefront of the decarbonization of our industry, ahead of the regulation and above the existing standards.”

Jonathan Wood, vice president of renewable aviation with Neste, a strategic supplier of SAF to Safran, added, “We are delighted to be working together with Safran as we share the ambition to contribute to the development and adoption of SAF usage in aviation. SAF is key to enabling the aviation industry achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2050. SAF is a proven solution with clear climate benefits and it is in use today, in particular in the U.K. We are ready to support the U.K. government’s policy ambitions to increase the use of SAF.”

All Safran’s helicopter engines are already certified to operate on up to 50 percent SAF and its objective is to certify the use of 100 percent SAF, resulting in CO2 emissions reductions of up to 80 percent. In September, Safran conducted a ground test campaign for a Makila 2 running on 100 percent SAF, which recently led to flight tests in an Airbus H225 in November. At the same time, Safran Helicopter Engines also supported the first flight of a Leonardo helicopter using SAF, an AW149 powered by its Aneto-1K turbines.

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