Research and Innovation
Safran Helicopter Engines invests a significant share of its revenue - around 15% - in preparing for the future. The result is a range of engines that deliver more power, lower fuel consumption and fewer polluting emissions.
For this reason, over and above improving current products, 1,000 design office engineers are engaged in researching new technologies and innovative concepts. Through this R&I activity, they interact with all Safran resources (cooperative programs with subsidiaries and affiliates, SafranTech, etc.) and with partners outside the company.
A major goal of this group is to reduce the cost of owning an engine, more specifically by improving its fuel consumption. To achieve this, Safran Helicopter Engines is looking to improve its architecture, with a particular focus on new compressors with very high compression rates. An early result of this effort can be seen in the Arrano, which offers 15% better fuel consumption over current turbines.
Safran Helicopter Engines is also making innovations in the materials used in gas turbines, which will result in lighter, more robust engines that are easy to manufacture. Turbomeca is one of the first engine manufacturers to introduce additive manufacturing technologies in its series-produced engines, and is actively researching the use of magnesium and titanium aluminides.
New energy sources, their integration on the aircraft and their in-flight operation are some of the solutions undergoing development and validation. This work requires close cooperation with aircraft manufacturers and end-users, particularly when it comes to defining the impacts of the solutions on operational performance and on through-life cost-of-ownership.
Safran Helicopter Engines integrates maintenance parameters as early as possible during an engine's upstream design phase. This has resulted in modular design concepts that simplify maintenance, optimize tooling, deliver innovative repair solutions and increase Time Between Overhaul (TBO).
An innovative range of customer services will soon be introduced. In parallel with new predictive maintenance and self-diagnosis (health monitoring) functions, Safran Helicopter Engines is working on a "connected engine" concept involving a new range of integrated online services known as Boost (Bank Of Online Services and Technologies). Research is underway to make use of operating data already available via engine control systems (FADEC).
Safran Helicopter Engines uses technology demonstrators to test and validate new engine technologies. In 2013 it evaluated the Tech 800, a demonstrator supported by the European Clean Sky program and used to mature the technologies already implemented on the Arrano. During 2015 it will test the Tech 3000, an demonstrator for heavy helicopter engines.
The company actively participates in European research programs such as Clean Sky and E-Break (for which it is the coordinator). On a national level, Turbomeca participates in the CORAC (Council for Civil Aeronautical Research) program and with ONERA, research laboratories and universities. Safran Helicopter Engines is also a major stakeholder in collaborative research in Aquitaine, participating in the Syrena 2, Mosart and Metallic'Adour programs.
Each year, Safran Helicopter Engines files about 100 patents.