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Helicopter Manufacturers Talk About Importance of Sustainable Aviation Fuel

On September 30, Helicopter Association International hosted a webinar to get the OEM perspective on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Executives from Airbus Helicopters, Bell Flight and Safran Helicopter Engines discussed their research on SAF, what they’ve done to test the fuel, and how they see SAF helping the helicopter industry define itself in the next generation of vertical flight.


As HAI President and CEO James A. Viola highlighted, there is strong policy movement towards SAF on both sides of the Atlantic. The White House announced in September the new Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, which aims to increase production and capacity by 3 billion gallons per year by 2030. The European Union aims to reduce emissions 55% by 2030 through its “Fit for 55” package of regulatory proposals, which includes a blending mandate for SAF through the ReFuelEU Aviation initiative. The World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition published guidelines in July 2021 to inform the development of this initiative.


Helicopter and helicopter engine OEMs see the potential of SAF to support a more ecological rotorcraft industry that will help helicopters remain relevant at a time when new vertical lift vehicles are embracing alternative fuels. These manufacturers are working tirelessly to vet SAF while encouraging the industry as a whole to embrace this cleaner alternative to fossil fuels.  


You can watch a recording of the webinar here.



  • Bruno Even, CEO, Airbus Helicopters: “It is our collective responsibility to contribute towards zero emissions, and SAF is a major contributor to reaching that goal. As of today, 40% of net CO2 emissions could be avoided by using SAF blends.”


  • Stefan Thome, EVP Engineering & CTO, Airbus: “It is not only an OEM push for sustainable aviation fuel…we clearly also see the customer pull. Clearly, operators, customers, they are citizens as we all are. They have children, you know we are all concerned about the future of our planet.” (…) “We support the World Economic Forum Clean Skies Target, which is by 2030 to have a minimum 10% SAF operations.”



  • Michael Thacker, Executive Vice President of Innovation and Commercial Business, Bell: “Collaboration is critical if we are going to reach our full potential to improve safety and sustainability. Having a cleaner environment for our future is a shared industry goal. It demands participation from all OEMs, customers and innovators.”


  • Doug May, Vice President of Flight, Bell: “The largest potential reduction in emissions undoubtedly, will come from our use of SAF. It really needs to be demand that drives supply. The message today is that we all need to do our part to be able to continue to propagate demand, which will drive supply.”



  • Franck Saudo, CEO, Safran Helicopter Engines: “In June we saw the first flight of an emergency rescue helicopter using biofuels. Helicopters in general are there to help the population. It’s logical for us that our contribution should be to accompany it with sustainable fuel.”

  • Jean-Baptiste Jarin, Deputy Program R&T, Sustainable Fuels, Safran: “Helicopter missions are highly societal. As a socially responsible company, & a helicopter Turbine Leader, we believe it is our role not only to take our share but to pave the way for the Decarbonization of our industry.”