Abu Dhabi Aviation flies Leonardo AW139 with blended SAF

An Abu Dhabi Aviation Leonardo AW139 helicopter
Photo Credit: Leonardo

Abu Dhabi Aviation (ADA) has successfully operated a Leonardo AW139 intermediate twin-engine helicopter on two flights powered by aviation fuel blended with SAF.

The flights, carried out in Abu Dhabi on November 28 and 30 marked a first in the UAE and the Middle East.

First rotary wing flight on SAF

On November 28 and 30, ADA’s AW139 intermediate twin-engine helicopter achieved two historic flights powered by a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) blend in Abu Dhabi.

The latter flight carried UAE dignitaries and industry representatives, marking a remarkable first in the UAE and the Middle East.

This initiative underscores both ADA and Leonardo’s commitment to reducing the aviation sector’s impact on global carbon emissions.

Photo Credit: Leonardo


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Nader Ahmed Al Hammadi, the Chairman of Abu Dhabi Aviation, expressed the company’s dedication to collaborating with strategic partners to accelerate carbon removal from the aviation sector.

Al Hammadi emphasized ADA’s commitment to supporting the UAE’s efforts in aviation, ensuring sustainable growth, and fostering adoption in the future.

Gian Piero Cutillo, Leonardo Helicopters’ Managing Director, lauded the SAF flights in the UAE as a testament to what’s achievable in supporting the rapid evolution of sustainability requirements in aviation.

Cutillo highlighted the technology’s potential to deliver real benefits across geographies, missions, and its readiness for widespread use.

Leonardo is committed to collaborating with authorities, energy industry leaders, and rotorcraft service providers to incentivize SAF use, contributing to carbon footprint reduction.

UAE Move Towards Sustainable Aviation

Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, the Director General of the General Civil Aviation Authority, commended the UAE’s civil aviation sector for significant strides in enhancing Sustainable Aviation Fuel usage.

He emphasized that the success of the first helicopter flight using SAF is a crucial step in reducing carbon emissions.

Al Suwaidi referred to the recent launch of the Dubai Framework for Sustainable Aviation Fuel, a milestone achieved during the third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) hosted by the UAE.

This framework sets the stage for a more sustainable aviation future, aligning with the ambitious goal of reaching zero emissions by 2050.

A Decade-Long Collaboration

ADA and Leonardo’s collaboration, spanning over 15 years, has resulted in the acquisition of 33 aircraft, predominantly AW139s.

ADA recently celebrated a remarkable milestone, achieving 100,000 flight hours with its Leonardo helicopter fleet.

The extended collaboration includes comprehensive localized support, maintenance, and overhaul services in the UAE, thanks to the AgustaWestland Aviation Services Joint Venture established a decade ago. This venture also introduced training and simulation capabilities.

The AW139

The AW139, with over 1,300 units ordered from more than 290 operators in over 80 countries, has become a global leader in helicopter aviation for all missions.

The fleet has amassed nearly 4 million flight hours globally. In 2023, AW139 helicopters showcased their versatility by conducting demonstration flights with SAF in Japan and Malaysia, further solidifying their commitment to eco-friendly aviation practices.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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