PRESS RELEASE – Safran Helicopter Engines
Factory of the future: Safran activates fully-automated helicopter engine turbine blade production line.
1st December 2016, Bordes – As part of its “Factory of the future” strategy, Safran Helicopter Engines has started its first automated production line dedicated to turbine blade manufacturing. The event at its Bordes plant was celebrated in the presence of Alain Rousset, President of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region.
The new line will manufacture every turbine blade used in the company’s product line. Its activation represents a breakthrough, in terms of quality and competitivity, in this type of component manufacturing, coupled with a reduction in production cycle and tighter cost control. The time taken to build each blade will be cut by half.
Initiated in 2012, the line is today 100 % operational. With a 900 square metre footprint, the new production line features several robots and automated cells capable of performing every process (milling, polishing, etching, 3-D control, and surface finishing) from raw material to finished, ready-to-assemble turbine airfoil. Operators have been locally trained to adapt their skills to this new production line. It can produce more than 100,000 airfoils a year. Turbine blades are among the most complex parts in an aero-engine to produce. Designed to sustain high temperature and constraints, their manufacturing tolerance is measured in microns.
Laurent Mazoué, Safran Helicopter Engines EVP Operations, says that opening of this « line of the future » “marks a new step in our “Factory of future” strategy which will maintain our manufacturing capacity at a world-class level. The automated and robotized production line will also greatly improve our competitivity and manufacturing agility and contribute to a high level of customer satisfaction. The skills and expertise of our teams, a key element in this project, will also be transformed”.
Safran Helicopter Engines’ “Factory of the future” program was launched in 2010, with the opening of the Joseph Szydlowski plant in Bordes (Pyrénées-Atlantiques). This was followed by the Mantes-Buchelay (Yvelines) plant opening in 2011 and, in 2015, the Cap 2020 Tarnos modernization program. Also in 2015, Safran Helicopter Engines introduced the serial production of additive manufactured (3-D printed) components in Bordes. Between now and 2020, other “lines of the future” will be introduced in Safran Helicopter Engines production facilities.
PRESS RELEASE – Safran Helicopter Engines
China’s AC352 completes first flight with WZ16 engine.
20 December 2016, Harbin – The first flight of the Avicopter AC352, powered with WZ16 engine, took place today in Harbin. The AC352 is a new seven-ton, twin-engine, multi-purpose rotorcraft jointly developed by Avicopter and Airbus Helicopters. The WZ16 met all the performance targets set for this maiden flight. Known in the west as the Ardiden 3C, the engine has been jointly developed by Safran Helicopter Engines, CAPI and Dongan, parts of the new Aero Engine Corporation of China (AECC) consortium, in a partnership for both development and production.
The WZ16 is a new-generation turboshaft in the 1,500 to 2,000 shp power class. It features a remarkably compact modular architecture, a best in class power to weight ratio with a low cost-of-ownership. Compared to the competition, it offers a 10 % lower fuel consumption.
“Such milestone achieved is the result of closer cooperation between both sides. Building on this, in the future, we will continue our cooperation toward the goal of engine certification at an early date” said Mr Qin Yuchun, President of AECC Dongan.”
Commented Safran Helicopter Engines EVP Programs, Cyrille Poetsch, “this flight both secures the AC352 development schedule and marks a major milestone in our partnership with China’s aerospace industry. Through this program Safran demonstrates its ability to successfully conduct new-generation engine design as part of an international partnership. This is also a significant step for Avicopter. Since its establishment in 1956, it has grown to become a major rotorcraft manufacturer. We are proud to be aboard their new-generation AC352 and wish them a happy 60th anniversary”.
WZ16 will be the first helicopter engine to be certified in parallel, both in China by CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) and in Europe under Ardiden 3C designation, by EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) under the Ardiden 3C designation. The EASA certification for the Ardiden 3C is expected by end of 2017, and the CAAC certification for the WZ16 in 2018.
With over 500 engines in operation, China represents a strategic market for Safran Helicopter Engines. One of every two Chinese-registered helicopters is equipped with a Safran engine or a licensed product. This level of business is the result of 40 years of cooperation with industry in China.