ABOVE: France Télévisions will use SAF to cover 30% of the Tour’s stages

The seven to nine helicopters involved in the aerial operations of this month’s Tour de France will use up to 50% SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel), described by Airbus as ‘a small breakthrough for a major event’.

Helicopters of the HBG Group (whose brands include Mont Blanc Hélicoptères and Hélicoptères de France) will be used by two clients during the internationally-renowned cycling event: ASO (the Tour Organiser) and Euromedia, broadcasting for France Télévisions.

Noting the Tour’s desire to reduce its carbon footprint, Jean-Marc Genechesi, director of Hélicoptères de France, explains: “Just as electric cars have been introduced to the convoy, last year ASO asked us to cover a third of all stages with SAF fuel, which we did”.

Although the Tour’s use of SAF became a requirement last year, there was only one storage and delivery point in the south of France. This year, SAF will be available at several airports as well as a refuelling truck at Annemasse airport, to help achieve what Genechesi describes as “even more ambitious consumption objectives”.

Whereas ASO typically uses single-engine Airbus H125 helicopters to transport VIPs or organisers, France Télévisions will utilize three twin-engine Ecureulis EC365 aircraft. Owing to strict routing requirements, numerous temporary helipads will also assist with refuelling operations. Overall, Hélicoptères de France will use SAF for 50% of the stages, with France Télévisions using the sustainable fuel for 30%.

The Tour de France officially commenced on Saturday 1 June and will run until Sunday 23 July.