Microflite flies first Australian helicopter powered by SAF


Microflite, the Australian helicopter operator, has flown the first helicopter in Australia powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

The helicopter flew at the Avalon 2023 Airshow at Moorabbin Airport near Melbourne, Australia.

“Sustainable aviation fuels represent a tangible opportunity for the aviation sector to cut its emissions in the short to medium term and it is encouraging to see that happening first hand,” said Catherine King MP, Minister of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government of Australia, who watched the flight. “Our Jet Zero council will work with industry so that we can see more initiatives like this across Australia.”

Neste, Airbus, Safran Engines and Microflite worked on the flight. The Airbus H130 helicopter, powered by a Safran Arriel 2D engine, used a 40/60 blend of SAF provided by Neste.

“The fuel was delivered to Avalon with the support of our partner, Itochu Corporation. With the expansion of our Singapore refinery starting operations at the end of the first quarter this year, we will be able to produce up to one million tons of SAF annually, ready to support the aviation industry with its emission reduction targets in the Asia Pacific region and globally,” said Sami Jauhiainen, vice president APAC, renewable aviation, Neste.

Microflite operates 20 helicopters flying passenger, aerial work, and emergency missions. “Our 10-year strategy is to transition our entire fleet to either SAF or electrically powered flight,” said Rodney Higgins, COO, Microflite.

  “This demonstration flight underscores Airbus’ commitment to help our customers achieve more sustainable operations. It is an important step in our journey towards decarbonisation, as we join like-minded industry partners for a wider adoption of SAF in flights,” said Stephen Forshaw, chief representative for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, Airbus.

“This is an important step in our roadmap for the large-scale deployment of SAF,” said Cedric Jochum, MD, Safran Helicopter Engines Australia. “Safran Helicopter Engines turbine range is already certified to run on 50% SAF and our team is working to certify operations with 100% SAF. When a 100% incorporation level is achieved, SAF offers a reduction in CO2e emissions of up to 80%.”