First SAF Helicopter Flight in Japan Occurs With Nakanihon Air

LONDON – Nakahnihon Air (NNK) makes a bold move to implement Japan’s first-ever SAF helicopter flight with Airbus’s flagship helicopter the H215. 

Nakhanikon Air, one of Japan’s leading helicopter operators, along with Airbus Helicopters in Japan have jointly successfully operated the country’s first-ever SAF (sustainable aviation fuel).

The H215 Super Pema performed a 30-minute historical flight at Nagoya Airport in Aichi Prefecture on the 1st of June 2022. 

The SAF that was used to fuel the 30-minute joy flight was a SUSTEO 10, a renewable jet fuel manufactured by Euglena. Euglena is Japan’s first biofuel manufacturer, and had the honour of supplying the Super Puma with such fuel. 600 worth of liters of SUSTEO 10 was used.

The fuel itself met the specification of both international and Japanese standards of diesel fuels ASTM D1655 and JIS K 2204 respectively. SUSTEO contains 10% SAF mixed with Jet A-1.

Though it is not completely 100% pure on SAF, this is a major step headed in the right direction. 

Hajime Futagami, President of Nakanihon Air is satisfied with the historical event. He commented: “We are happy to collaborate with Airbus Helicopters in Japan and Euglena on sustainability efforts for Japan’s sky, achieving the first SAF helicopter flight together.” 

“Today’s SAF flight trial is very important for our company as we work on the reduction of the CO2 emitted during flights in an effort to tackle climate change issues.”

“The locally produced SAF is an immediate approach toward reducing carbon emissions for the helicopter market.”

“We are looking forward to the continued support from Airbus on our wide-ranging activities in Japan, with the enhanced precision and stability we require,” he added. 

The SAF was later on championed by its European counterpart: Guillaume Leprince, Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters in Japan stated:

“We are pleased to launch this milestone SAF flight together with our long-standing customer as we work towards decarbonisation,”

“As a leader in the Japanese helicopter market, this SAF-powered flight is an important step in a shared vision we have with stakeholders in the helicopter market and the industry to reduce CO2 emissions in the country.”

“The H215 has fully demonstrated its ability and readiness to provide enhanced mission efficiency and performance our customers have come to expect.”

The flight above Nagoya, Japan, sets a precedent for other H215 Super Puma Helicopters to operate on SAF.

Operators consist of both civilian and military users, ranging from Europe to East Asia. The H215 is a twin-engine,  heavy-lifter and is used throughout various missions, and has a positive reputation for its reliability, performance and competitive operating costs. 

Airbus Helicopters launched an initiative to introduce 100%  SAF compatibility for their helicopter fleets. Currently with all Airbus helicopters are certified to fly up to a 50% blend of SAF mixed with traditional kerosene.

The goal is to reach 100% SAF compatibility however, needs extensive collaboration between Airbus itself and engine manufacturers.

Nevertheless, an important milestone have been made in 2021, when an Airbus H225 performed the first-ever helicopter flight with 100% SAF powering one of the Safran Makila 2 engines.

Utilising 100% SAF would be a win for the European manufacturer in terms of achieving environmental goals as this would reduce 80% of CO2 emissions.  

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