At present, nearly 100% of aviation fuel is derived from petroleum using conventional and well known refining technology. However, the fluctuations of the fuel price and the vulnerability of crude oil sources have increased the interest of aviation industry in alternate energy sources. The motivation of this interest is actually twofold: firstly alternative fuels will help to stabilize price fluctuations by relieving the world wide demand for conventional fuel. Secondly alternative fuels could provide environmental benefits including a substantial reduction of emitted CO2 over the fuel life cycle. Thus, the ideal alternative fuel will fulfil both requirements: relieve the demand for fuels derived from crude oil and significantly reduce CO2 emissions.
In the present paper, the effects of various alternative fuels on the operation of a medium transport/utility helicopter are investigated using performance models of the helicopter and its associated turboshaft engine. These models are developed in an object-oriented simulation environment that allows a direct mechanical connection to be established between them in order to create an integrated model. Considering the case of a typical mission for the specific helicopter/engine combination, a comparative evaluation of conventional and alternative fuels is then carried out and performance results are presented at both engine and helicopter level.