Bell Textron announced that the Bell 505 completed the first flight using only 100 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) fuel, marking the first-ever single-engine helicopter to fly on 100 percent SAF.
Bell partnered with Safran Helicopter Engines, Neste, GKN Aerospace and Virent to make this Bell 505 flight possible.
“This flight is a milestone achievement for the sustainability and decarbonization of the rotorcraft industry,” said Michael Sack, Bell’s executive vice president of commercial operations. “Demonstrating the flight capability of a single-engine aircraft with 100% SAF demonstrates Bell’s commitment to the use of alternative fuels and builds on its sustainability practices in flight operations.”
Valentin Safir, Executive Vice President Programs at Safran Helicopter Engines, said: “SAF is one of the key pillars of our strategy to decarbonize the helicopter industry. Our engines are certified to operate at up to 50% SAF and we aim to Demonstrating the use of 100% SAF within a year, this could lead to a reduction in carbon life cycle emissions of up to 80%.”
To enable the flight, Bell partnered with Safran Helicopter Engines, manufacturer of the Arrius 2R engine on the Bell 505; GKN Aerospace, supplier of fuel system components; SAF supplier Neste; and Virent, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corp., which produces Renewable fuels and chemicals. Safran Helicopter Engines and GKN Aerospace thoroughly tested engine and fuel system components.
Neste and Virent partnered to blend, test and deliver SAF as 100% direct fuel for the project. SAF is made from used cooking oil or other bio-based feedstock and typically must be blended with petroleum products because it does not contain components called “aromatics” that are necessary to meet today’s jet fuel specifications. Virent produces an aromatics ingredient made from renewable plant sugars that is added to Neste’s pure SAF without mixing SAF with petroleum fuels. As such, the SAF supplied by Neste and Virent for this test flight is a “100% drop-in” replacement for petroleum-based aviation fuel, requiring no engine modifications.
Bell’s own training fleet and demonstration aircraft currently use SAF in its operations. The team continues to guide the customer’s dialogue around its implementation and monitors the SAF tests in a dedicated Bell 505 equipped with Safran Helicopter engines. The flight supports Textron’s 2025 sustainability footprint goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent across the enterprise, among other sustainability initiatives.
The Bell 505 is a five-seater aircraft designed for safety and efficiency, while incorporating the most advanced technology to date. The platform uses a fully integrated Garmin G1000H NXi avionics suite and a Safran Arrius 2R engine with a dual-channel FADEC. — trade arab news agency