Safran in China: the advantages of training

The CFM training center in Chengdu (a 50/50 Safran/GE joint-venture) completes the Group’s network in China, boosts its credibility there and showcases Safran expertise.

The CFM training center in Chengdu recently welcomed its 10,000th trainee, and hosted the first borescope inspection competition (‘borescope inspections' involve inspecting engines with micro-cameras) this September. This CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) competition will allow participating Chinese airlines to benchmark their technicians' expertise. And the venue was no coincidence: it mirrors the trust that Safran has earned with its Chinese partners.

This center has four full-time instructors and trains Chinese airline technicians and supervisors year round. The courses last five days on average and include two days in workshops. It has established an outstanding reputation and the CAFUC (Civil Aviation Flight University of China) uses it as a showcase (besides overseeing it). Several prominent politicians, and celebrities including actor Jackie Chan and even Miss World have visited the team!

A training center in China
This rocketing success was not easy to imagine back in the early 1990s, when Safran started training staff from Chinese airlines that used CFM56 engines to power their aircraft. Flying trainees to training centers in Cincinnati (USA) or Montereau (France) proved impractical, and the travel costs and language barriers soon prompted companies to send managers rather than operational staff. That in turn led to the decision to open a training center in China. Talks began in 1992, the parties reached an agreement in 1994, and the training center opened in November 1996. CFM seconded the general manager and chief instructor until 2001, when local employees replaced them.

A stepping stone for the long term
"Chengdu is our third CFM training center worldwide, and it is bolstering Safran's strategy in China on two fronts," explains Snecma (Safran) China Operations General Manager Olivier Laroche. "First of all, our Chinese partners want us to establish a local presence for the long run. This is a very down-to-earth sign that we are serious about doing exactly that. Now that we have reassured them of that, it will help us to sell engines, because now they know they will get quality maintenance services. The other big advantage is that this center has slashed training costs – in France and China."

The Chengdu training center completes the Group's CFM operation in China, which encompasses a sales team, airport-based technical crews, spare engine rental services, a spare parts shop, a repair center and a customer support center available 24/7. All these advantages should place Safran among the first companies to enjoy the expected rapid growth in air transport in this part of the world.