Airbus A400M: first successful test flight with sustainable aviation fuel

The first Airbus A400M test flight with Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) took place at Airbus’ San Pablo plant in Seville, Spain in July. The test, using a load of 29% SAF in one of its TP400-D6 engines, proved successful, as announced on Monday.

The fuel was used in only one engine to allow for a better analysis of the fuel system´s behaviour. The aircraft flew for about an hour. It took off at the San Pablo plant runway in Seville, then headed towards the North of Huelva before landing back safely in Seville.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel

SAF is an alternative fuel that can reduce life cycle CO2 emissions by up to 85% in comparison with conventional fuels. This flight demonstrated that both the aircraft and its engines are aligned with the new fuel, with a blend of 50% certified SAF. A400M operators can now fly using a load of up to 50% certified blended SAF.

This is a first step towards achieving 100% certified SAF readiness and certification for the A400M, which Airbus and EuroProp International are working towards. With over 100 A400M aircraft in 8 different countries, offering customers the ability to use SAF is one of Airbus’ priorities. OCCAR and the A400M Nations are also engaged in initial discussions to develop the roadmap. More flight tests are also planned for the C295 and the A330 MRTT.

Belén Blanco, Technical Leader for SAF in A400M explains: “For this first flight, we are using a type of SAF called HEFA (Hydro processed 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 engine. (…) It is a drop-in fuel, so there is no need to modify the engines´ systems and there are no technical limitations.”

César González, Flight Test Engineer at Airbus Defence and Space added that “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.”

Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space. Stated that: “Having cleaner skies and contributing to a more resilient planet is a goal shared with our operators worldwide, and so it is our responsibility to respond to the challenges this implies. Any of their missions is also ours, so performing safer and cleaner military operations is the immediate one.”

Author: Emma Dailey

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