Pioneering first flight on 100% renewable biofuel for GKN's RM12 Gripen fighter engine

April 5, 2017 Photo(s): By GKN Aerospace
  • RM12 engine powered by 100% renewable biofuel, shows excellent performance in demonstration flight
  • Ground-breaking role in sustainable military aviation for GKN Aerospace in cooperation with Saab and Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV)

A Gripen fighter from the Swedish MOD with a GKN RM12 engine powered by 100% renewable biofuel has succesfully completed the first biofuel demonstration flight in a single engine installation on 28 March 2017. The RM12 engine showed an excellent performance both in flight and on the ground. The specific biofuel used (CHCJ-5) is fully interchangeable with normal jet fuel and therefore no engine changes or modifications were needed.

GKN Aerospace, Saab and FMV will use this flight to demonstrate the potential of biofuel for military aerospace, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of aviation. GKN aerospace is also strongly involved in the Clean Sky programme which is the largest European research programme developing innovative, cutting-edge technology aimed at reducing CO2, gas emissions and noise levels produced by aircraft.

GKN is Type Certificate holder for the RM12 engine and has reviewed fuel specifications and material compatibility for all fuel wetted components in the engine in order to ensure safe engine operation and flight safety. Initial ground tests were performed with an instrumented engine where engine critical data was monitored. Airworthiness was approved for the engine after satisfactory evaluation of measured engine data. Flight tests were then performed where engine performance/operability data again was monitored in real-time through telemetry link. The engine performed excellent both on ground and in flight.

Stefan Oscarsson, GKN Aerospace's General Manager for Military Engines said: "I am proud that once again GKN Aerospace is demonstrating its pioneering role in the development of sustainable aviation, together with our partners FMV and Saab. This demonstration flight clearly shows that biofuel can be used to power military aviation reducing the aviation industry's carbon footprint."