Leonardo and Pratt & Whitney Canada celebrate the first flight on 100% SAF fuel for an AW139 helicopter

(To Leonardo)

– Leonardo and Pratt & Whitney Canada announced today that they have successfully completed the first flight of an AW139 helicopter, powered by PT6C-67C engines, using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Carried out at the Leonardo factory in Cascina Costa di Samarate (VA) on 21 November, after a thorough ground test, the 75-minute flight allowed the evaluation of various systems and the performance of the propulsion system with multiple power variations. The test showed an extraordinary response to the use of SAF without significant differences compared to conventional Jet A1 type fuel.

The result establishes a historic record for both Leonardo helicopters and the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 engine family. AW139 helicopters had flown during the year on a blend of SAF and traditional fuel to current certification standards in Japan, Malaysia and, most recently, the United Arab Emirates. All civil helicopters belonging to Leonardo's product range are certified for operations with the use of SAF with a mixture of up to 50%.

The demonstration flight of the AW139 with 100% SAF provides further proof of the good design and high performance of the helicopter and its systems. The AW139 remains the most successful model in its class today, with a growing and unrivaled market presence. With over 1100 helicopters of this type in service today and almost four million flight hours accumulated by the fleet to date, this result shows a further concrete benefit of the possibilities offered by the AW139 to the many operators who carry out missions in all climatic and environmental conditions , at a time when they are aiming for even more ambitious sustainability goals.

Gian Piero Cutillo, Leonardo Helicopters MD, declared “With this result we are demonstrating how we can respond to the rapid evolution of sustainability requirements in the aeronautical field, just as the industry is aiming for a more extensive use of SAF in operational missions. We did this with our best-selling AW139, proving that this technology enables more sustainable operations while maintaining the same high level of performance and significantly contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions. We are therefore committed to working with authorities, players in the energy industry and helicopter service providers with the aim of encouraging the use of SAF fuel."

“This flight effectively demonstrates the functionality of the engine and is an important part of long-standing efforts to support the development of future specifications for the use of 100% SAF, a central element in our systems strategy propulsive,” said Maria Della Posta, President of Pratt & Whitney Canada. “This is the first time a PT6 engine has flown with 100% SAF. A milestone achieved thanks to consolidated and unrivaled success, proving that this family of engines can contribute to a more sustainable future of the aeronautical sector. Since its entry into the market 60 years ago, the PT6 engine family has accumulated over 500 million flight hours, of which 8,3 million with the PT6C version.”