Fuelling a green approach to aviation

15 November 2021

As the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, drew to a close in Glasgow, Leonardo’s latest generation military helicopter, the AW149, took to the sky to demonstrate the steps the company is taking to help reduce the carbon footprint of its helicopter fleet.

Using a blend of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), the AW149 – the aircraft Leonardo is offering to the UK MOD for its New Medium Helicopter requirement – left Bristol airport on Friday 12 November for its return journey to the company’s UK helicopter facility in Yeovil.

The use of SAF demonstrates Leonardo’s commitment to reducing the impact aviation has on global carbon emissions. Dependent upon the blend of SAF used, life cycle carbon emissions can be reduced by up to 80% when compared to traditional jet fuel.

With the AW149 and platforms across the company’s helicopters fleet now able to fly with SAF fuel, Leonardo enables operators around the world to make a greener choice for future flights.

“This is just part of our journey to a greener future; as the world faces an increasing climate emergency, innovation, technology and skills will be needed to rise to the challenges of our modern world,” said Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters UK, following the AW149’s flight.

“As a company, we are part of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s working group with industry partners on sustainable aviation towards net zero emissions.

“Our efforts to minimise our environmental footprint are constant and are increasing. We are investing in next generation technologies and the workforce of tomorrow to remain at the forefront of new rotorcraft design, manufacture and support.

“A few examples are the tiltrotor programmes we have in place (AW609 and Clean Sky 2 NextGen Tiltrotor) which will deliver greater efficiency by reducing flight time (and therefore emissions) thanks to their turboprop performance in horizontal flight, for example for point-to-point connection.”

Also present for the flight was Jane Cumisky, Head of Sustainability for Leonardo UK. She said: “We know that the aviation industry is a key contributor of CO2 emissions and we’re committed to accelerating the advancement and adoption of SAF. We recognise the need for change and we are committed to a greener future. That means being conscious of our own operations and of the products we build, and of the services we enable for our customers. Our efforts to minimise our environmental footprint are constant and will continue for the foreseeable future.

“Leonardo has graduates in the South West and throughout the UK who are very motivated – not only by engineering, but by green engineering and green solutions. They will be at the heart of our transition to a greener future, for our business and for the world of tomorrow.

“The climate emergency demands an ambitious response by UK businesses. This is why Leonardo UK is going a step further and has committed to net zero carbon emissions from our own operations, by 2030. 

“This ambitious, but we think achievable, goal is part of our recently published Carbon Reduction Plan, a public pledge to make this essential measure a reality.” 

The day after the flight, Leonardo was once again confirmed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI), ranking first for the Aerospace & Defence industry, confirming the company’s leadership for the second consecutive year. Globally, the company is working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN) by leveraging its technological innovation and core competencies.


AW149: Versatility for the most demanding missions

AW149: Versatility for the most demanding missions

Military helicopters must be equipped to perform the most demanding missions in the harshest operating environments. The AW149 is a latest-generation medium multi-role military helicopter that delivers the highly effective and survivable capability required by today’s armed forces, combining advanced technologies, equipment and weapons with unparalleled safety and performance characteristics.

Sustainability

Leonardo integrates sustainability into all aspects of our business to create long-term value and generate positive economic, social and environmental impacts for the company and our stakeholders.

Sustainability