France Flight Tests Used Vegetable Oil-Fueled Military Helicopter

The French government defense procurement agency (DGA) test-flew a military helicopter fueled by 85 percent used vegetable oil, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 75 percent.

It is the first time a military helicopter has flown on high-content Sustainable Aviation Fuel fueling one of its two engines. The engine required no modification.

TotalEnergies prototyped the fuel using HEFA (hydrotraitement des huiles et des graisses) technology. 

Four-Fold Carbon Footprint Reduction

The fuel has one-fourth the carbon footprint during production and use compared to fossil-based aviation fuel.

One of the European Union’s criteria for sustainable fuel is to have 65 percent lower carbon emissions than fossil-based fuel. 

The Defence Innovation Agency-backed test assessed the fuel’s characteristics (consumption, engine power) and its operational consequences (functioning of the fuel circuit, performance, and thermal signature). 

Future Experiments 

The test is part of the French Ministry of Defense’s Climate & Defence strategy for more efficient fuel consumption, supported by Safran Helicopter Engines, TotalEnergies, and Airbus Helicopters.

Possible future experiments include longer duration flights “to check the good tolerance of the helicopter systems and its engines” and “the development of bio-based aromatics to further increase the proportion of sustainable fuel,” DGA wrote in a press statement.

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