Bell 505 flies on 100% SAF


A Bell 505 has flown on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for the first time.

Bell says that it is the first time any single engine helicopter has flown on 100% SAF. The helicopter manufacturer worked with Safran Helicopter Engines, Neste, GKN Aerospace and Virent on the flight.

“This flight is a monumental achievement for sustainability and decarbonization in the rotorcraft industry,” said Michael Thacker, executive vice president, commercial business, Bell. “Showcasing a single engine aircraft’s flight capabilities with 100% SAF signals Bell’s commitment to alternative fuel usage and builds on its sustainability practices in its flight operations.”

The helicopter used 100% Neste SAF made from used cooking oil and waste fats with Virent adding aromatics made from renewable plant sugars.

“SAF is one of the key pillars in our strategy to decarbonize the helicopter industry,” said Valentin Safir, executive vice-president, Programs, Safran Helicopter Engines. “Our engines are certified to operate on up to 50% SAF and our objective is to certify in the coming years the use of 100% SAF, which can potentially result in carbon lifecycle emissions reductions by up to 80%.”

The five seat Bell 505 is powered by a Safran Arrius 2R engine with a fuel system made by GKN Aerospace.

“Neste is working closely together with forerunners in the aviation industry on verifying that aircraft can run safely on 100% SAF,” said Jonathan Wood, VP, global commercial and technical, renewable aviation at Neste. “This successful collaboration demonstrates that we are one step closer to enabling the entire aviation industry to take full advantage of 100% SAF as the key means to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions of air travel.”

Bell uses SAF for its training fleet and demonstration aircraft.

Safran also worked on the first flight of a military helicopter powered by 100% SAF earlier this month.