Bell 505 Becomes World’s First Single Engine Helicopter to Fly Using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel
Fort Worth, TX (February 21, 2023) Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced today the Bell 505 completed its first flight fueled solely by 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), marking the first-ever single engine helicopter to fly with 100% SAF. Bell collaborated with Safran Helicopter Engines, Neste, GKN Aerospace and Virent Inc. to make this Bell 505 flight possible.
“This flight is a monumental achievement for sustainability and decarbonization in the rotorcraft industry,” said Michael Thacker, executive vice president, Commercial Business, Bell. “Showcasing a single engine aircraft’s flight capabilities with 100% SAF signals Bell’s commitment to alternative fuel usage and builds on its sustainability practices in its flight operations.”
Valentin Safir, executive vice-president, Programs, Safran Helicopter Engines said: “SAF is one of the key pillars in our strategy to decarbonize the helicopter industry. Our engines are certified to operate on up to 50% SAF and our objective is to certify in the coming years the use of 100% SAF, which can potentially result in carbon lifecycle emissions reductions by up to 80%.”
To achieve this flight, Bell collaborated with Safran Helicopter Engines, manufacturer of the Arrius 2R engine on the Bell 505; GKN Aerospace, the fuel system component supplier; Neste, the SAF supplier; and Virent, Inc., a Marathon Petroleum Corp. subsidiary that manufactures renewable fuels and chemicals. Safran Helicopter Engines and GKN Aerospace conducted thorough testing on the engine and fuel system components.
Neste and Virent collaborated to blend, test, and deliver the SAF for this project as a 100% drop-in fuel. SAF, made from used cooking oil or other bio-based feedstocks, typically must be blended with petroleum products because it doesn’t include a component called “aromatics,” which is required to meet today’s aviation fuel specifications. Virent manufactures an aromatics component made from renewable plant sugars, which was added to Neste’s neat SAF, eliminating the need to blend SAF with petroleum fuel. The SAF supplied for this test flight by Neste and Virent is therefore 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 their operations. The team continues to guide customer conversations around its implementation and monitors SAF testing in a dedicated Bell 505 with Safran Helicopter Engines. This flight supports Textron’s Achieve 2025 Sustainable Footprint goal for 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the enterprise, among other sustainability initiatives.
The Bell 505 is a five-seat aircraft designed for safety and efficiency while using the most advanced technology to date. The platform uses a fully integrated Garmin G1000H NXi avionics suite and Safran Arrius 2R engine with a dual-channel FADEC.
Thinking above and beyond is what we do. For more than 85 years, we’ve been reimagining the experience of flight – and where it can take us.
We are pioneers. We were the first to break the sound barrier and to certify a commercial helicopter. We were a part of NASA’s first lunar mission and brought advanced tiltrotor systems to market. Today, we’re defining the future of advanced air mobility.
Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas – as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Textron Inc., – we have strategic locations around the globe. And with nearly one quarter of our workforce having served, helping our military achieve their missions is a passion of ours.
Above all, our breakthrough innovations deliver exceptional experiences to our customers. Efficiently. Reliably. And always, with safety at the forefront.
Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Pipistrel, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Arctic Cat, and Textron Systems. For more information, visit: www.textron.com.
Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking statements which may project revenues or describe strategies, goals, outlook or other non-historical matters; these statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, changes in aircraft delivery schedules or cancellations or deferrals of orders; our ability to keep pace with our competitors in the introduction of new products and upgrades with features and technologies desired by our customers; changes in government regulations or policies on the export and import of our products; volatility in the global economy or changes in worldwide political conditions that adversely impact demand for our products; volatility in interest rates or foreign exchange rates; and risks related to our international business, including establishing and maintaining facilities in locations around the world and relying on joint venture partners, subcontractors, suppliers, representatives, consultants and other business partners in connection with international business, including in emerging market countries.
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