French engine maker Snecma (Stand W420) and Baynuna Aviation Technology (BAT), a Abu Dhabi-based defense company, have formed a joint venture called Snecbat Engine Technologies, which will also be based in Abu Dhabi. Snecbat’s capabilities are to include civil and military engines services. It will focus particularly on the military aspect since the United Arab Emirates has a fleet of Snecma M53-powered Mirage 2000 fighters and is a prospect for the Dassault Rafale, which is fitted with a pair of M88s.
“We want to be ready if the Emirates choose the Rafale,” Snecma chairman and CEO Philippe Petitcolin told AIN. Earlier this year, the other two members of the Rafale team–Dassault and Thales–also created joint ventures with BAT.
The M88 version that would be operated by the UAE air force is not firmly defined. However, to meet its prospect customer’s requirement, Snecma is working on an increased-thrust variant–about 20,000 pounds instead of 16,500 pounds (nine tons instead of 7.5 tons, as currently in service)–partly because of the region’s hot climate. However, this is the only specific modification under consideration, Petitcolin said, adding that all enhancements worked out for the French air force would be incorporated into the UAE’s M88s. For example, beginning in 2011 Snecma will deliver M88s with a reduced cost of ownership.
The Middle East accounts for less than 5 percent of Snecma’s revenues, Petitcolin said. As for civil engines, he pointed out that GE and Snecma have 550 CFM56s in service or on order in the region. “This makes a 75-percent market share in narrowbody aircraft engines,” he said.
With regard to the Silvercrest turbofan, Snecma’s first foray in business aviation, Petitcolin said his company is talking to an airframer that could become its first customer.
No contract has been signed yet, though, so he clarified that the competition is still open.
Snecma and GE’s Leap-X demonstration program is progressing with a goal of making fuel-saving technologies available for the next generation of narrowbodies. “When a customer says, ‘I am ready [to take your engine],’ we draw a line and answer, ‘This is the level of savings we can provide at this stage,” Petitcolin said. For example, if China’s Comac were to request the Leap-X for the C919 to fly in 2014, Snecma and GE might offer a 10- to 12-percent fuel saving over current CFM56s. Snecma wants to complete certification in 2016. It wants to achieve a 16-percent cut in fuel burn with the new engine.