1st SAF-Powered Rotorcraft Flight in UAE and Middle East Set
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This news is classified in: Aviation Helicopters Sustainable Aviation

Nov 30, 2023

1st SAF-Powered Rotorcraft Flight in UAE and Middle East Set by Abu Dhabi Aviation's AW139 Commercial Helicopter

  • Abu Dhabi Aviation (ADA) accomplished two flights with a Leonardo AW139 helicopter powered by SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) in Abu Dhabi on 28 and 30 November, marking a first in the UAE and Middle East.
  • ADA and Leonardo are actively committed to reducing the impact that aviation has on global carbon emissions

Abu Dhabi Aviation (ADA) accomplished two flights with a Leonardo AW139 helicopter powered by SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) in Abu Dhabi on 28 and 30 November, marking a first in the UAE and Middle East. 

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

In this context, Mr Nader Ahmed Al Hammadi, Chairman of 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 its adoption in the future.”

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Gian Piero Cutillo, Leonardo Helicopters’ MD, said “The SAF flights in the UAE performed by ADA’s AW139 have shown what’s possible in support of the rapid evolution of sustainability requirements in aviation. This technology can deliver real benefits in the region and widely across geographies, for all missions and can be readily available. 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.” 

His Excellency 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 towards 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. He added, “On the twenty-fourth of this month, at the conclusion of the third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels, which was hosted by the UAE, the world witnessed the launch of the Dubai Framework for Sustainable Aviation Fuel, which represents the beginning of the path towards a more sustainable future in aviation, aiming to achieve our ambitious goal of reaching zero emissions by 2050."

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 subsequent training and simulation capabilities.

The world’s most important helicopter programme since its certification in 2004 and the bestselling type in its category, the AW139 has logged orders for over 1,300 units from more than 290 operators in over 80 countries to date for all missions. The global AW139 fleet has nearly 4 million flight hours logged to date. The type features state-of-the-art avionics with advanced navigation and collision avoidance systems to enhance situational awareness and reduce pilots’ workload, unmatched speed, power margins and overall performance, the widest cabin in its category featuring high modularity for rapid reconfiguration, a unique 60+ min run-dry capable main gear box for enhanced reliability and safety and up to 1,000 certified kits. The AW139 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67C engines that provide exceptional power capability with each engine producing 1,700 shaft horsepower (shp) thermodynamic. The AW139 is supported by advanced digital capabilities for maintenance and training, both in terms of fleet flight data management and simulation for pilots, cabin crews and technicians. This year AW139 helicopters carried out demonstration flights with SAF in Japan and Malaysia. 

Abu Dhabi Aviation is a national shareholding company and the largest commercial helicopter operator in MENA region, established in 1976. The company owns a fleet of nearly 60 aircrafts, including more than 50 helicopters and several fixed-wing aircrafts. ADA also operates aircrafts for various entities. ADA has won multiple international aviation awards. It has completed more than 1,000,000 safe flying hours. ADA was the very first rotary wing AOC in the UAE established in 1976. ADA is the leading helicopter operator & maintainer in the MENA region conducting oil & gas on shore, off shore operations as well as HEMS, VIP transport & many other aviation services in the UAE & also World Wide. ADA is also a capable Leonardo MRO with both base, line & shop capability. 

Leonardo is a leading global Aerospace, Defence and Security (AD&S) company. With 51,000 employees worldwide, it operates in the fields of Helicopters, Electronics, Aircraft, Cyber & Security and Space, and is a key partner in major international programmes including Eurofighter, NH-90, FREMM, GCAP and Eurodrone. Leonardo has significant industrial capabilities in Italy, the UK, Poland, the US and Israel and also operates through subsidiaries, joint ventures and stakes, including Leonardo DRS (80.9%), MBDA (25%), ATR (50%), Hensoldt (25.1%), Telespazio (67%), Thales Alenia Space (33%) and Avio (29.6%). Listed on the Milan Stock Exchange (LDO), Leonardo reported new orders of €17.3 billion in 2022, with an order backlog of €37.5 billion and consolidated revenues of €14.7 billion. The company is included in the MIB ESG index and has been part of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) since 2010. 



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