Shaping the future

Challenges

Research & Technology (R&T) is a fundamental part of Safran, allowing us to drive continuous improvements for a safer and more environmental-friendly air travel.

Moteur Leap HS

Developing new-generation aircraft engines

Safran is already exploring different technologies to develop tomorrow's aircraft engines. The primary aim is to create quieter, cleaner, more fuel-efficient and more economical engines. These efforts address the objectives for 2050 set by ACARE, the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe:

  • 75% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions,
  • 90% reduction in oxides of nitrogen (NOx),
  • 65% reduction in perceived noise

The new LEAP engine, set to enter service in 2016, already promises remarkable environmental performance:

  • 15% lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions than current engines.
  • Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions 50% under the CAEP/6 standard.
  • A significant reduction in ground noise, in line with the upcoming Chapter 14 standard.
Démonstration du système de taxiage électrique EGTS™ au salon du Bourget 2013 HS

The EGTS™ electric taxiing system being demonstrated at the 2013 Paris Air Show

Towards "more electric" aircraft

Safran is calling on the full sum of its expertise to take a major step towards "more electric" aircraft. What this means is that the traditional hydraulic and pneumatic systems will be gradually replaced by electrically-driven systems. The upshot is aircraft with more available power and greater energy efficiency. They will also be more reliable and more economical, because of lower production and maintenance costs.

The EGTS™ electric taxiing system is a major advance in this area. It allows aircraft to taxi without using their jet engines, a solution that offers a host of benefits: less noise, reduced fuel consumption (up to 4% less per cycle) and a roughly 60% decrease in CO2 emissions during taxiing. In addition this innovative system will improve the on-time performance of commercial airplanes.

Higher performance, more widely used security solutions

 

Checkpoint aéroportuaire intégré.

Morpho's integrated airport checkpoint project.

Safran develops innovative solutions to improve people's lives and strengthen national security: detection of hazardous and illicit substances, personal safety and transaction security, biometric ID documents, and much more.

Drawing on our proven expertise in biometrics and explosive detection, Safran is now designing integrated airport checkpoints. The aim is to simplify and speed up the different checks before passengers can board an airplane, while also enhancing security. Safran's new XDi™ system, also under development, should enable airports to eliminate the current restrictions on liquids in carry-on luggage; it is based on X-ray diffraction technology, or XRD.

We also supply latest-generation identification documents to governments, including ID cards, passports, voter cards and driver licenses.

Another main focus at Safran is the expanded use of contactless technology to simplify daily life. For instance, we developed Finger on the Fly®, an advanced biometric sensor that can read four fingerprints on a moving hand. This innovative solution reduces the risks of transmitting germs, and also facilitates the use of ID systems in countries whose culture limits physical contacts between persons. Finger on the Fly® is especially well suited to applications such as border control in airports, access control to heavily used, high-value sites, and flow of people management.

When you're a company like Safran, that has supplied the FBI with automated fingerprint identification systems for more than 20 years, and delivered biometric border control systems for a large number of countries, you can't settle for less than the best. Perfection is an absolute imperative.

Jean-Paul Herteman, Chairman and CEO of Safran

Reducing technology costs for space and defense applications

 

Patroller™: the long-endurance surveillance drone

 

Today, especially in the West, governments are cutting their space and defense budgets. At Safran, that means we have to boost performance and reduce costs to address changing conditions. We are now developing innovative new technologies in these sectors to underpin tomorrow's more cost-effective systems, while maintaining impeccable quality and reliability.

Our resources

Between major investments, a large number of people who work on research & development (R&D) and state-of-the-art facilities, Research & Technology (R&T) is one of the prime movers of Safran's growth.

A proactive, audacious strategy

In our core markets of aviation, space, defense and security, Safran must anticipate our customers' needs. Innovation is an integral part of our corporate culture and a key to our strategy.

R&D at a glance (2013)

1,8
billion euros invested in R&D, equal to about 12% of sales
71%
of research is independently financed
More than
20%
of Safran employees are involved in R&D

Two new cutting-edge research centers

To bolster our innovation policy, in 2014 Safran built two new world-class research centers. One consolidates R&T teams from throughout the Group, while the other focuses on composite materials.

The new Research & Technology center, dubbed Safran Tech, is tasked with fostering the emergence of new technologies. It has three main thrusts:

  • advanced aircraft systems,
  • digital technology,
  • materials, processes and sensors.

Safran Tech is located at the Group's Paris Saclay site, which will also welcome corporate R&T, the Innovation department and Paris area teams from Safran Engineering Services and Aircelle. The site will eventually house 1,500 staff members, including outside partners.

Safran Composites is wholly dedicated to R&D for composite parts. Located in Itteville, in the greater Paris area, it was inaugurated in May 2014. Safran invested some 50 million euros in this composites hub, which will eventually count 150 specialists.

 

Inauguration of the Safran Composites center of expertise, in Itteville

 

An exceptional organization, capitalizing on research expertise

In addition to our own Innovation and R&T units, Safran has created a highly organized in-house network of 900 experts, responsible for developing the highest-performance technologies around. All of our experts have earned their special status and career management support. Safran nurtures an atmosphere that allows these experts to share their knowledge across the Group.
We have also set up a Scientific Council, bolstering our position within the greater scientific community. Chaired by well-known physicist Mathias Fink, the Council comprises seven internationally known researchers, each specialized in one of Safran's core disciplines: physics, solid and fluid mechanics, applied mathematics, surface chemistry, materials, automation and numerical simulation.
We also set up our own think tank in May 2012, the Innovation and Long-term Planning Circle. Comprising well-known figures from industry and academia, plus members of Innovation departments in Safran companies, this think tank identifies long-term trends in air transport, towards 2040-2050.

 

Science, research and innovation

 

Employee-driven innovation: a broad culture of innovation at all levels

Over and above major research programs, innovation at Safran is an integral part of everybody's mindset.
In fact, we have organized an annual event to spotlight our people's achievements, the Innovation Awards. This competition mainly recognizes the most promising initiatives developed by Safran employees. Safran has signed the Employee-driven Innovation Charter, initiated by the association Innov’acteurs. Based on seven principles, this charter seeks to spread the innovation culture across the enterprise eco-system.

Hundreds of patents a year

2nd
for the most patents filed by a company in France
Safran files for over
800
patents a year worldwide
A global portfolio of
26,000
patents

Our technologies

At Safran, achieving excellence also means reducing the development time and cost of our products. We coordinate innovation through seven main technology fields that apply to all of our business sectors.

Les 70 techniciens, doctorants et ingénieurs formant l’équipe de Safran Composites se sont installés lundi 17 mars 2014 sur le site du Bouchet, à Itteville (Essonne). D’une superficie de 10 000 m², ce tout nouveau centre de recherche va permettre au Groupe de conserver son leadership dans l’innovation liée aux matériaux composites, dont l’emploi se généralise à grande vitesse, tout particulièrement dans l’industrie aéronautique

We continue to develop innovative technologies with a distinctive difference to ensure our future business success.

Marc Ventre, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Operations, Safran


Turbomachinery and propulsion systems for tomorrow's aircraft and rocket engines.

At Safran, we're exploring a number of different technologies to help us develop engines that are quieter, greener and less expensive.

Energetic materials for propulsion: expertise every step of the way

Safran's technological expertise in all aspects of energetic materials makes us a world leader in solid propulsion. Solid propellants provide the energy needed by solid rocket motors, whether for missiles or launch vehicles. To maintain our technological leadership, we deploy innovative processes, coupled with long experience in managing the risks involved.

Electrical systems and power electronics: towards more electric aircraft

Safran’s comprehensive expertise in aircraft electrical systems is a key driver in the development of a “more electric” aircraft that is more economical, more reliable and less polluting.

Onboard electronic systems

To optimize the reliability of its onboard electronic systems, Safran produces ultra-durable components capable of withstanding the full spectrum of in-flight environmental conditions.

Sensors and information processing

Safran designs and manufactures sensors that offer constantly improving capabilities in areas such as real-time engine health monitoring, high-precision baggage scanning, and virtually instantaneous biometric identification. The aim is to develop autonomous systems that can be used at a day-to-day level.

Modeling and simulation

Modeling and simulation technologies that deliver important gains in terms of efficiency, reliability and competitiveness are key to Safran’s product design and development process.

Materials and processes

Safran deploys cutting-edge expertise to develop innovative materials and manufacturing processes designed to enhance product performance, in terms of strength, weight and environmental impact.

Our success stories

Use electric motors for aircraft taxiing, read fingerprints on a moving hand… Safran offers products at the cutting edge of innovation, reflecting our technological excellence. Below we show you four excellent examples.

Après la présentation officielle au salon du Bourget, en juin 2013, l’egts vient de franchir une nouvelle étape cette semaine à Toulouse, avec l’organisation de la première conférence Pilot Days.
L’événement a permis à plus d'une trentaine de pilotes du monde entier de tester en conditions réelles le système de taxiage électrique mis au point par Safran et Honeywell
The EGTS™ electric taxiing system being demonstrated at the 2013 Paris Air Show

Electric taxiing, greener, quieter and more economical

The EGTS™ electric taxiing system, developed by Safran and Honeywell through their joint venture EGTS International, allows an aircraft to taxi without using its jet engines, thanks to electric motors driving the wheels on the main landing gear. Power for these motors is generated by the APU (auxiliary power unit), located in the aft part of the plane. The EGTS offers a host of advantages, including not just easier ground movements, whether forward, reverse or even turning in place without requiring a tractor, but above all a 4% reduction in fuel consumption over a flight cycle, a considerable advantage for airlines, plus a 60% reduction in greenhouse gases during taxiing. The system also reduces congestion at airports, and improves on-time performance.

The EGTS impacts many parts of the plane, from cockpit to wheels, as well as the electronic power controllers, avionics and wiring. Our main challenge is to successfully integrate this technology while changing the plane as little as possible, so we can retain the ultra-high reliability that has driven the success of single-aisle commercial jets.

Olivier Savin, EGTS program manager

3D woven composite materials, lighter and stronger

Safran is deploying innovative materials and production processes to reduce aircraft weight and improve engine performance. One of these solutions in 3D weaving using the RTM (resin transfer molding) process, enabling the production of complex organic matrix composite parts, as light as they are strong. They are made by injecting liquid resin into a preform made of carbon fibers woven in three dimensions, then placed in a metal mold for curing.

This innovative technology is used on the fan blades and cases for the upcoming LEAP engine. It is even used on the fin stabilizer on the Safran Open 60 monohull ocean racer, sponsored by Safran and skippered by Marc Guillemot. With this advanced technology, the fin offers enhanced shock resistance.

LEAP engine - Composite Fan Blades & Case

 

Finger on the fly®, reading fingerprints in motion

For the first time, a system can identify fingerprints without being in contact with the hand! Dubbed "Finger on the Fly®", this innovative system captures and processes fingerprints on a moving hand in just a few seconds. This technology limits the risks of transmitting germs, and is also appropriate for countries where the culture limits physical contact. It will also simplify and speed up border checks at airports.

 

Profile of Sylvaine Picard and his team, who developed the "Finger on the Fly®" technology.

 

Hemispherical resonator gyro (HRG), the future of inertial navigation

Safran is the European leader in inertial navigation, a technology that allows autonomously determining the position of a vehicle in space. The hemispherical resonator gyro (HRG) is the future of navigation. It's the third generation of inertial reference units designed by Safran, and will take over for mechanical and laser gyro based units.

The HRG offers a host of benefits, especially small size and exceptional reliability, because its measurement of angular velocity is virtually unaffected by interference. This means it can operate continuously and failure-free for dozens of years.

Le Gyroscope résonnant hémisphérique – GRH – cœur de la nouvelle centrale de cap et d’attitude BlueNaute.
The hemispherical resonator gyro

 

Open innovation

Open innovation: being creative together

Safran is counting on the benefits of sharing expertise to push the innovation envelope. We apply this collaborative mindset via partnerships with not only major research labs, but also our suppliers. By pooling expertise we accelerate the innovation process and better meet our customers' needs.

 

IROQUA : Initiative de Recherche pour l'Optimisation acoustiQUe Aéronautique

Mardi 23 novembre, la convention IROQUA a été renouvelée pour cinq ans par les grands acteurs de la filière aéronautique sous l’égide de la Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile.
Signature of the Iroqua research agreement on November 23, 2010, at French civil aviation directorate DGAC headquarters in Paris

 

We were one of the first major French corporations, if not the first, to conduct part of our research with major public labs.

Alain Coutrot, Safran deputy director, Research & Technology.

Employee-driven innovation

At Safran, innovation is an integral part of our competitiveness. It's also a state of mind and a culture that irrigates our entire Group. Each and every employee is invited – encouraged in fact – to submit new ideas. This participative approach to innovation demands a dedicated organization, and is also celebrated each year at the Safran Innovation Awards.

50 000+
improvement ideas from Safran employees were applied in 2013
118
projects submitted at 2014 Innovations Awards

 

La cérémonie a débuté par un discours d’Eric Bachelet, Directeur central Groupe, Recherche et Technologie. Il a rappelé que l’innovation était une condition essentielle au succès de Safran, et que tous les collaborateurs du Groupe, quels que soient leur métier ou leur implantation géographique, peuvent y contribuer.
The 2014 Innovation Awards ceremony