As part of a three-year pilot project, German ADAC Lufrettung’s helicopter ‘Christoph Rheinland’ will be the first rescue helicopter to fly to emergency missions with environmentally friendly bio-kerosene from 15 December 2021. Frédéric Bruder, Managing Director of ADAC Luftrettung, announced the start of regular emergency medical operations at Cologne / Bonn Airport on the sidelines of the European Rotors international helicopter trade fair, which is taking place in Cologne, Germany. A second research project in Germany with alternative aviation fuel was initiated there: It is to be implemented in Aachen / Würselen in 2022 with the ADAC rescue helicopter ‘Christoph Europa 1’.
The pilot project with ‘Christoph Rheinland’ at Cologne / Bonn Airport is a cooperation between ADAC Luftrettung in cooperation with the French engine manufacturer Safran Helicopter Engines, the helicopter manufacturer Airbus Helicopters and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The long-term effects of bio-kerosene on the Airbus H145 technology with saffron engines are being investigated. The aim of the project is to accelerate the technology selection, scaling and market introduction of sustainable aviation fuels in Germany.
Reducing CO2 emissions by 80 per cent
Bio-kerosene is a sustainable aviation fuel with which CO2 emissions can be reduced by up to 80 per cent over the entire life cycle (from production to consumption) compared to fossil aviation fuel, which will be replaced by the SAF. In Cologne, a mixture of conventional JET-A1 kerosene with a 35 per cent bio-kerosene admixture will be used as a first step. This means that the ADAC Luftrettung fleet could achieve a reduction in CO2 emissions of around a third, which corresponds to a reduction of around 6,000 tons of CO2 with more than 50,000 rescue missions and more than 3.3 million flown kilometers per year.
"We want to be a pioneer in reducing CO2 and, as a non-profit organization, make our contribution to achieving the climate protection goals in Germany and Europe," said Frédéric Bruder, Managing Director of ADAC Luftrettung. "Bio- Kerosene is an officially approved fuel – flight and patient safety thus remain at the usual highest level.”
Bio-kerosene is currently certified and approved for aviation in a mixture of a maximum of 50 per cent with conventional jet-A1 kerosene.
The bio-kerosene used in Cologne by the aviation fuel supplier Air bp is produced from used cooking oil, without the use of natural vegetable oil. Because of its complex production, it is not yet available in large quantities and is many times more expensive than conventional aviation fuel. The aim of both projects is to increase the degree of admixture to up to 100 per cent in the coming years – and subsequently the use of synthetic e-fuel, also known as power-to-liquid kerosene (PtL), as a further key on the way to climate-neutral aviation. PtL refers to the generation of liquid fuels or fuels with the help of electrical power from renewable sources.
Bell 525 Relentless completes SAF flight
Meanwhile, the Bell 525 Relentless completed its first flight using SAF in summer 2021. Bell first incorporated SAF in its training and demonstration fleet in March 2021.
“The Bell 525 continues to demonstrate unprecedented performance as it progresses through flight testing,” said Doug May, Vice President of Flight at Bell. “Showcasing the aircraft’s usage of SAF further reinforces its position as a true 21st century aircraft, capable of bringing more sustainable practices to the industry and future customers.”
Bell sources this fuel from Avfuel Corporation and is the fuel provider’s first rotorcraft customer to use and complete flights with SAF. This brand of biofuel, Neste MY SAF, is made from renewable, sustainably sourced waste and residue materials. Once blended, Avfuel anticipates a 22-metric ton reduction in lifecycle carbon emissions per truck load.
Bell’s SAF initiative supports Textron’s Achieve 2025 Sustainable Footprint goal for 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the enterprise, among other sustainability initiatives.
“At Bell, our goal is to set the standard for clean aviation and pave the way for a greener future by minimizing our operational impact," said Michael Thacker, Executive Vice President of Innovation and Commercial Business at Bell. "This is a major milestone in our sustainability journey, and we look forward to implementing more carbon emission reduction practices in the future."