Helicopters Magazine

China’s first helicopter flight using sustainable aviation fuel

June 15, 2023  By Helicopters Staff

State Grid Space Technology’s SAF flight at Hefei Shiwan Airport in China. (Photo: Airbus)

An Airbus H125 helicopter belonging to State Grid Space Technology Co. used sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for a flight demonstration at Hefei Shiwan Airport in China. This is the first helicopter flight using SAF in China.

The H125, which is powered by a Safran ARRIEL 2D engine, flew at a hybrid ratio of 40 per cent of SAF provided by CNAF (China National Aviation Fuel).

“The success of this flight is of great significance to stimulate SAF promotion and its application,” said Du Guihe, Board Chairman of State Grid Space Technology (SGST). “It makes a positive impact on the enterprises which are proactive on low-carbon general aviation development. It is also a breakthrough for China’s general aviation industry to better implement carbon emission reduction in the post-pandemic era.”

This milestone comes just a few weeks after Airbus and the CNAF signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to intensify Chinese-European cooperation on the production, competitive application and common standards formulation for SAF during the French state visit to China.


Compared to fossil jet fuel, Airbus explains SAF has been shown to result in up to 80 per cent reduction in CO2 across the entire SAF lifecycle. This cooperation agreement between Airbus and CNAF aims to optimize the SAF supply chain by diversifying the sources and enhancing SAF production towards the ambition of using 10 per cent SAF by 2030.

“I am proud that our customer, SGST, launched this noteworthy SAF flight with the H125, marking Airbus Helicopters as the first helicopter manufacturer to perform a SAF flight in China,” said Colin James, Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters in China. “In an effort to reduce carbon emissions and set a standard within the industry, we are working with our partners to use locally produced SAF.”

The use of SAF is one of Airbus Helicopters’ levers to contribute to ATAG’s Scenario 3 outlook to NetZero in 2050. Airbus explains of the main benefits of using this new fuel is that it allows the aircraft to minimize its carbon footprint while maintaining the same flight performance.

Today, all Airbus helicopters are capable of flying with a blend of up to 50 per cent of SAF mixed with kerosene, with the aim of having the aircraft operate with 100 per cent SAF by 2030.


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