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Lift off for Australia’s first helicopter flight using SAF

Lift off for Australia’s first helicopter flight using SAF
The Microflite Airbus H130 helicopter landing at Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne, Australia (photo courtesy Airbus).

In Australia, Neste, Airbus, Safran Helicopter Engines, and Microflite, a leading Australian helicopter operator, have jointly operated the country's first helicopter flights using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

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On this demonstration flight that took place on February 28, 2023, at the Avalon Airshow, an Airbus H130 helicopter powered by a Safran Arriel 2D engine used blended sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) supplied by Neste.

Sustainable aviation fuels represent a tangible opportunity for the aviation sector to cut its emissions in the short to medium term and it is encouraging to see that happening firsthand. Our Jet Zero council will work with industry so that we can see more initiatives like this across Australia, said The Hon Catherine King MP, Minister of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government of Australia who witnessed the SAF demonstration flight launch at the Avalon Airshow.

The helicopter took off from Moorabbin Airport near Melbourne, Victoria (VIC), and will be expected to fly for a total of 60 minutes over the next few days, and is fueled with a 40/60 blend of SAF with conventional jet fuel.

We are pleased to support Airbus, Safran, and Microflite on this demonstration flight with the first-ever delivery of Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel to Australia. The fuel was delivered to Avalon with the support of our partner, Itochu Corporation. With the expansion of our Singapore refinery starting operations at the end of the first quarter this year, we will be able to produce up to one million tonnes of SAF annually, ready to support the aviation industry with its emission reduction targets in the Asia Pacific region and globally, said Sami Jauhiainen, VP APAC, Renewable Aviation at Neste.

The use of SAF is one of Airbus’ levers to reduce carbon emissions, and we are proud to have achieved this milestone SAF flight with long-standing partners Safran and Microflite. This demonstration flight underscores Airbus’ commitment to helping our customers achieve more sustainable operations. It is an important step in our journey towards decarbonization, as we join like-minded industry partners for wider adoption of SAF in flights, said Stephen Forshaw, Airbus Chief Representative for Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific.

This is an important step in our roadmap for the large-scale deployment of SAF. Safran Helicopter Engines turbine range is already certified to run on 50 percent SAF and our team is working to certify operations with 100 percent SAF. When a 100 percent incorporation level is achieved, SAF offers a reduction in CO2eq emissions of up to 80 percent said Cedric Jochum, Managing Director of Safran Helicopter Engines Australia.

As a young and dynamic aviation company with a strong vision to lead excellence in sustainable aviation, we have a fleet of over 20 aircraft conducting passenger, aerial work, and emergency services operations. Our ten-year strategy is to transition our entire fleet to either SAF or electrically powered flight. This Australian-first use of SAF in a rotary-wing aircraft has been achieved through a collaboration with our valued industry partners, and Microflite is proud of the commitment from Airbus, Safran, and Neste to join us in leading a sustainable aviation industry, said Rodney Higgins, Chief Operating Officer from Microflite.

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