Airbus has commenced flight testing of the A400M Atlas military transport aircraft with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in Seville, Spain.
The trial analyzed the aircraft’s fuel system’s behavior with a blended SAF, a type of alternative fuel proven to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 85 percent, according to Airbus.
During the trial, led by experts from the A400M program team and the Airbus Defense and Space Military Air Systems, the aircraft flew over an hour to the southern city of Huelva and returned to Seville with a blended load of 29 percent SAF in one of its engines.
“For this first flight, we are using a type of SAF called HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids) which is made of residuals of oils, vegetables and fats, and also free of aromatics and Sulphur, so it is very efficient and good for the engines,” A400M-SAF Technical Leader Ana Belén Blanco explained.
Test administrators found that the A400M and its Europrop TP400-D6 engines are compatible with a blended load of 50 percent certified SAF for more sustainable operation.
“During the flight, we performed a close comparison between engine number 2, the one using SAF, and the other 3 engines using standard fuel Jet A1, so we had a very good opportunity to compare the performance of the different fuels,” Airbus Defence and Space Flight Test Engineer César González said.
“The results we got confirmed that using this blended SAF does not affect engines or aircraft performance, so the A400M can receive the whole potential of it in terms of environmental benefit”, González continued.
‘Path Towards Sustainability ‘
Airbus and Europrop will incorporate the trial data to establish a roadmap to achieve a 100 percent SAF certification.
The companies will also share their results with operators of over 100 A400M aircraft deployed in eight countries, according to Airbus.
“Our operators had expressed their willingness to use SAF in their military operations, and we are here to respond to their needs,” A400M Power Plant Chief Engineer Rocío Gutierrez Alonso said.
“This first flight of an A400M using SAF is a first step in our division that creates the momentum to progress steadily and persistently at an efficient pace along this path towards sustainability,” he added.
Following the success of the SAF trial, Airbus plans to test the alternative fuel further with its C295 transport and A330 MRTT tanker planes.