Airbus helicopters are leading the way in the drive for biofuels.

Steve Chalmers

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO₂) have skyrocketed since the start of the Industrial Revolution. The transition from simple hand production methods to the use of fossil fuels helped deliver improvements to the standard of living across the planet, but today the negative effects of CO₂ on the planet are measurable.

Almost 90 percent of all human-produced carbon dioxide emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels, and the aviation industry contributes around 2,5 percent of that – a little too much for Airbus Helicopters.

SAF reduces CO₂ emissions thanks to the use of residual and household waste material (mainly waste oils).

SAF User Group

To help proactively support the industry’s CO₂ reduction commitment and to tackle the remaining challenges around biofuels, Airbus is creating the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) User Group exclusively for the rotary-wing community.

Working closely with its partners from all areas of the aviation sector, the SAF User Group aspires to collectively work on ways to accelerate the use of blended SAF kerosene and to pave the way toward 100% SAF flights for the future fleets.

With the SAF User Group, Airbus Helicopters plans to tackle the remaining challenges around biofuels and proactively support the industry’s CO₂ reduction commit

“We welcome all helicopter operators, engine manufacturers, fuel system suppliers, energy companies, fuel providers, handling companies, and all other stakeholders in the industry willing to pioneer sustainable aerospace with us,” said Stefan Thomé, Executive Vice President, Engineering and Chief Technical Officer, Airbus Helicopters.

SAF reduces CO₂ emissions thanks to the use of residual and household waste material (mainly waste oils). The stock is then converted to sustainable aviation fuel and mixed with aviation fuel to make it suitable for use in aero engines before being delivered to the airport. All Airbus-made helicopters are currently certified to run with a blend of as much as 50% SAF in the kerosene.

Accelerating the development of SAF will help Airbus in its goal to reduce CO₂ emissions by 50 percent and improving fuel burn in current-generation aircraft.


Back at the start of June, an Airbus H145 rescue helicopter operated by the German non-profit organisation ADAC Luftrettung flew for the first time on sustainable aviation fuel. The H145 had its Arriel 2E engines refueled with second-generation biofuel at the air rescue station at Munich’s Harlaching Clinic. With this SAF, the ADAC Luftrettung fleet could achieve a 33 percent reduction in CO₂ emissions.

Dr. Andrea David, CEO of the non-profit ADAC Foundation, to which ADAC Luftrettung belongs, says that “For us, the Sustainable Aviation Fuel pilot project is a first big step on the way to a climate-neutral ADAC Foundation and air rescue service, and our contribution as a non-profit organisation to achieving the climate protection goals of Germany and Europe.”

“We want to be a pioneer in reducing CO₂ in emergency medical services with environmentally friendly kerosene. This means we must also develop air rescue technology so that the use of SAF is future-proof in the longer term. To achieve this, we have strong partners at our side,” adds Frédéric Bruder, Managing Director of ADAC Luftrettung. “Importantly, SAF is an officially approved fuel, which means that flight and patient safety remain at the highest level.”