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Helicopter History Made: First SAF-Only Flight with AW139 and Pratt & Whitney”

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RTX's Pratt & Whitney Canada and Leonardo achieve first 100% SAF flight with PT6C-67C-powered AW139 helicopter
RTX's Pratt & Whitney Canada and Leonardo achieve first 100% SAF flight with PT6C-67C-powered AW139 helicopter. Photo source: Pratt & Whitney

In a remarkable stride for aviation, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Leonardo have flown an AW139 helicopter with the PT6C-67C engine, entirely on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). This wasn’t just a quick hop; it lasted 75 minutes, soaring from Leonardo’s Italian grounds on November 21. A historic first for the PT6 series, it’s a big nod to SAF’s viability in mainstream aviation.

Maria Della Posta, leading Pratt & Whitney Canada, noted this flight as a pivotal point for PT6 engines, affirming their compatibility with SAF. This isn’t merely about today; it’s laying groundwork for future sustainable aviation, aligning with the industry’s 2050 target for net-zero CO2 emissions.

Pratt & Whitney, a name synonymous with aircraft engines, is charting its course towards greener skies. Their focus? Smarter technologies, cleaner fuels, and sustainable business. This flight was a tangible testament to this commitment.

Gian Piero Cutillo of Leonardo Helicopters praised the AW139’s performance and their collaboration with Pratt & Whitney Canada. This flight isn’t just a milestone; it’s a beacon for operators worldwide aiming for greener operations.


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Reflecting on the PT6’s journey since 1963, Pratt & Whitney Canada has seen its engines soar for over one billion flight hours. With nearly 3,000 PT6C engines out there, racking up 8.5 million hours, they’re a trusted name in aviation.

On the broader horizon, RTX stands as a colossal force in aerospace and defense. Spanning 180,000 global employees, it encompasses giants like Collins Aerospace and Raytheon. With a sales record of $67 billion in 2022, RTX, based in Arlington, Virginia, is a name that resonates far and wide in the industry.

What does this mean for us? It’s a peek into a future where skies are not only busier but cleaner. With companies like Pratt & Whitney Canada and Leonardo at the helm, the path to sustainable aviation seems not just plausible, but imminent.

Sunita Somvanshi

With over two decades of dedicated service in the state environmental ministry, this seasoned professional has cultivated a discerning perspective on the intricate interplay between environmental considerations and diverse industries. Sunita is armed with a keen eye for pivotal details, her extensive experience uniquely positions her to offer insightful commentary on topics ranging from business sustainability and global trade's environmental impact to fostering partnerships, optimizing freight and transport for ecological efficiency, and delving into the realms of thermal management, logistics, carbon credits, and energy transition. Through her writing, she not only imparts valuable knowledge but also provides a nuanced understanding of how businesses can harmonize with environmental imperatives, making her a crucial voice in the discourse on sustainable practices and the future of industry.

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