France’s Safran is here at the Dubai airshow for the first time since engine maker Snecma and electronics specialist Sagem merged. The group also includes Snecma’s landing gear and brake division.
What used to be Snecma’s office in Abu Dhabi before the merger now houses all Safran activities. Originally the company opened the facility to support the MP53-P2 engine that powers Dassault’s updated Mirage 2000-9 fighter supplied to the UAE air force. Safran is now negotiating a new contract for MP53-P2 support. Safran also continues to help Abu Dhabi-based Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Co. (Gamco) establish a new unit to handle upgrades and maintenance for the turbofan.
François Courtot, senior vice president of international development, told Aviation International News that the Gulf states and Middle East region, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), account for a sizable piece of Safran’s business.
According to Courtot, the region will need a lot of new civil airliners. “Between 2005 and 2015, 620 to 640 aircraft will be required in the Middle East, 60 percent of them for the Gulf countries,” he said. The trend should boost requirements to support CFM International engines and Aircelle nacelles, landing gear and braking systems. With this in mind, Safran has appointed a local sales representative to offer its entire product range to the Gulf countries.
The group’s Turbomeca helicopter powerplant subsidiary continues to deliver re-engined Eurocopter AS 332 Super Pumas and plans to offer a re-engining program to AS 365 Dauphin operators. The company also wants to establish a new engine service facility in the UAE and to approve Gamco to work on its Adour engine.
Safran’s SMA small engine division is negotiating plans to re-engine piston-powered Cessna 182s for the Al Ain Military Air Academy. Separately, Aircelle plans to establish a facility in the UAE to work on A380 and A350 nacelles.
Military activity in Saudi Arabia includes support for the Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca engines that power both the BAE Systems Hawk jet trainer/light attack aircraft. In Oman the group maintains the Adours on the Jaguar trainer/strike aircraft.
Safran also projects a strong presence in Morocco and expects to establish a workforce of about 1,700 in the next three to five years to maintain CFM56 engines, as well as to manufacture wiring and nacelles. Courtot said Safran is talking with Syrian authorities about a plan to get their Mirages flying again.
Business in Egypt, which is largely military, includes retrofitting aircraft and supporting navigation systems and engines. The only civil activity involves maintaining helicopter engines.