Turbomeca Engines has become a major player on a highly competitive field in recent years after decades spent primarily as a powerplant supplier to European helicopter manufacturers. As the chief provider of engines all across the Eurocopter line, Turbomeca has increased its North American presence on pace with American Eurocopter’s penetration of Western Hemisphere markets.
When French President Nicholas Sarkozy made his first official visit to China last November he returned with the confirmation of orders for 110 Airbus 320s and 50 A330s. Safran, the French engine, equipment and systems group, stands to benefit from these deals, especially through the possible selection of its CFM56 engines by Chinese customers.
While pledging to retain its North American headquarters in Grand Prairie, Texas, French engine maker Turbomeca has announced plans to open a new service, support and maintenance center in Mirabel, Canada, just a few scant miles from Bell Helicopter’s major civil manufacturing center in the same town. The new center will support the needs of the roughly 300 Turbomeca-made powerplants in service throughout Canada.
Safran’s business in India has taken a step forward following the recent maiden flight of Hindustan Aeronautics’ Dhruv helicopter powered by the Ardiden 1H Shakti turboshaft engine produced by the French group’s Turbomeca division. The move bolsters Safran’s long-term expansion plans in India, not only in the defense market but also in the booming civil sector.
Snecma’s half share in the PowerJet SaM146 turbofan may represent the Safran Group’s biggest contribution to the Sukhoi Superjet project, but nearly a dozen other subsidiaries are supplying equipment and services for that airplane.
The PowerJet SaM146 turbofan that France’s Safran is showing in scale model form here at the Dubai Air Show (Stand W510) represents not just the application of engine subsidiary Snecma’s CFM56 experience to a regional jet-size engine but one of the most ambitious attempts yet to combine the strengths of Western and Russian aerospace technology.
The expansion of Russia’s defense exports in recent years has caused its manufacturers to buy more components and systems instrumentation from leading Western companies, which has led to closer cooperation between Russian and Western firms.
Jean-Pierre Cojean, Snecma executive vice president of commercial engines and head of the Silvercrest engine program, said the engine-maker was disappointed, but not devastated, at not having clinched the contract to supply the engine for Dassault’s new Falcon super-midsize business jet to be launched in the next few months.
Jean-Paul Herteman has been named chairman and CEO of the Safran supervisory board. He succeeds Jean-Paul Béchat, whose term expired on September 2. In addition, Jean-Paul Ebanga is replacing Michel Dechelotte as chairman and CEO of PowerJet, a subsidiary of Safran’s Snecma.
Mixed results for Safran’s subsidiaries last year and an internal investigation into accounting irregularities last December that resulted in top executive changes have again raised the question of the wisdom of the controversial merger of leading French aerospace and engine and equipment manufacturing group Snecma and telephone and defense communications group Sagem.