First SAF-powered rotocraft flight in UAE, Middle East - GulfToday

First SAF-powered rotocraft flight in UAE, Middle East


Abu Dhabi aviation officials pose for a group photo during the ceremony. WAM

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Abu Dhabi Aviation (ADA) and Leonardo announced on Thursday that an ADA’s AW139 intermediate twin-engine helicopter accomplished two flights powered by aviation fuel blended with SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) in Abu Dhabi (the latter carrying on board UAE dignitaries and industry representatives).

These flights using SAF on an ADA’s commercial helicopter marked a first in the UAE and the Middle East.

This initiative and achievement demonstrate ADA and Leonardo’s capability and active commitment in reducing the impact that aviation has on global carbon emissions.

Nader Ahmed Al Hammadi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Aviation, affirmed that Abu Dhabi Aviation is keen on collaborating with its strategic partners to expedite carbon removal from the aviation sector, contribute to achieving the country's climate targets, enhance fuel efficiency, and preserve it. He added, 'We reaffirm ADA’s commitment to supporting the UAE's efforts in the aviation sector to ensure sustainable growth and adopting it in the future.”

Gian Piero Cutillo, Leonardo Helicopters MD, said, "These SAF flights in the UAE performed by an ADA’s AW139 have shown what’s possible to concretely support the rapid evolution of sustainability requirements in aviation. This technology can deliver real benefits in the region and widely across geographies and for all missions and can be made available in a reasonable time. We’re committed to joining forces with authorities, energy industry leaders and rotorcraft service providers to incentivise the use of SAF to sustain carbon footprint reduction.”

ADA and Leonardo have been collaborating for over 15 years with the operator acquiring a total of 33 aircraft to date, most of which are AW139s. Recently, ADA set a 100,000-flight hour milestone with its Leonardo helicopter fleet. The ADA’s fleet of Leonardo helicopters was extended to comprehensive localised support, maintenance and overhaul services in the UAE around ten years ago with the establishment of the AgustaWestland Aviation Services Joint Venture and subsequently training and simulation capabilities.

Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, the Director General of the General Civil Aviation Authority, stated that the civil aviation sector in the UAE is making significant strides toward enhancing the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and highlighted that the success of the first helicopter flight using SAF is an important step that supports the ongoing efforts towards reducing carbon emissions in the aviation sector.

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