Leonardo flies from Bristol to Yeovil on sustainable fuel

AW149 being fueled with Sustainable aviation fuel at Bristol airport

Leonardo has completed a helicopter flight from Bristol Airport to their site in Yeovil using a blend of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), to demonstrate they are ready to give customers greener options when they are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

The aircraft chosen by the aerospace engineering company for the flight was the AW149, currently under consideration for a major new requirement from the UK government for a new medium-sized helicopter.

Following the AW149 flight, Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters UK, said: “Dependent upon the blend of SAF used – lifecycle carbon emissions can be reduced by up to 80% when compared to traditional jet fuel. What this means is a cleaner option to fly and we can make it available to customers across our helicopters fleet, not just the AW149. The capability is available and enables our operators to make a greener choice for future flights.”

Simon Earles, Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Director, Bristol Airport said: “Our region has a unique cluster of aerospace companies, expertise, and world-leading universities. We are collaborating on a number of exciting new initiatives, with the Airport being the testbed for new technology and taking a leadership role with various partners on innovative aviation trials taking place.

“We are committed to net-zero airport operations by 2030 and will continue working in partnership with airlines and business partners to reduce emissions from flight operations. We commend Leonardo on the work they are doing with their sustainability initiatives and agenda.”

Leonardo is already part of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s working group with industry partners, exploring pathways for more sustainable aviation towards net zero emissions. In addition, Leonardo is collaborating on a wide range of technologies to move its business forward, potentially contributing to the advancement of the industry as a whole.

In the coming years, Leonardo will be sharing its innovation at the iAero Centre based at Bunford Lane in Yeovil. This facility offers space for collaboration and innovation among local aerospace supply chain businesses in a significant aerospace technology development project led by Somerset County Council.

Nick said: “iAero, alongside Leonardo, is a visible sign that Yeovil continues to be a key centre of innovation in the aerospace sector in the UK. We are committed to reducing emissions and investing in new concepts and technologies in the vertical flight domain. A few examples are the tiltrotor programmes we have in place like the AW609 and Clean Sky 2 NextGen Tiltrotor, which will deliver greater efficiency reducing flight time and therefore emissions, thanks to their turboprop performance in horizontal flight.”

Leonardo has committed to net zero carbon emissions from their operations in the UK by 2030 and on 30 September, they published their first carbon reduction plan providing details of how they will achieve this goal.