Pilatus and Synhelion Launch Partnership for Fuels Produced From Solar Energy

Civil Aviation

Stans, Switzerland: Pilatus and Synhelion are about to launch a strategic cooperation aimed at accelerating the scaling of solar fuels for the aviation industry. Pilatus intends to use Synhelion’s solar fuels for its own operations and also offer them to its own customers in the medium-term. With that in mind, Pilatus has become a shareholder in Synhelion, underpinning its commitment to proactive defossilisation of air traffic.

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Synhelion was established in 2016 as a spin-off of ETH Zurich. The company aims to replace fossil fuels with renewable solar fuels, thereby helping to decarbonise the travel industry.

Pilatus aircraft are already certified to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which is currently produced mainly from biomass or waste products. Recent calculations indicate, however, that this type of fuel will never be available in sufficient quantities, now or in the future.

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Synhelion is currently building the world’s first industrial solar fuel production plant in Germany – construction of a first commercial plant is planned in Spain from 2025. During this process, fuels are produced from solar energy. Pilatus hopes to use Synhelion’s solar fuel for its own fleet of aircraft before offering the same fuel to its customers as a proactive means of defossilising their air travel.

The partnership also sees Pilatus become a shareholder in Synhelion, thereby reinforcing a long-term commitment to the sustainable transformation of air travel.

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Hansueli Loosli, Chairman of the Pilatus Board of Directors, emphasised, “Pilatus has been committed to sustainability and energy efficiency for many years – in our production processes and new buildings, for example. We are firmly convinced that sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will be a lasting feature of aviation operations in the future, and this is our way of making a further essential contribution.”

Markus Bucher, Pilatus CEO, added, “We are convinced of the value of solar fuel technology – these fuels are the best way to defossilise air travel as quickly as possible. We’re delighted to play a pioneering role together with Synhelion, and make an important contribution to sustainability in the aviation industry.”

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Philipp Furler, Co-CEO and co-founder of Synhelion, commented, “We’re extremely proud to have Pilatus as a partner and shareholder. Over the next few years, we will focus fully on scaling our fuels worldwide. Together, we aim to roll out sustainable solar fuels to the entire Pilatus customer fleet within the next ten years.”