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The world's oldest aircraft engine manufacturer, Safran has gradually been built by consolidating prestigious aerospace and defense companies. Discover Safran's history below.



The company "Mallet, Mélandri et de Pitray" is founded by Maurice Mallet, Antonino Mélandri and Paul Simard de Pitray and produces the first airship for sports and tourism activities. The company would adopt the name Zodiac in 1911 and later be merged with Safran in 2018.



The Seguin brothers found the company "Société des moteurs Gnome" in Gennevilliers, near Paris, to make rotary engines for airplanes. In 1915, the company merges with its main competitor, "Société des moteurs Le Rhône", created three years before by Louis Verdet. Named "Société des Moteur Gnome et Rhône", this new entity specializes in aircraft engine manufacturing.



Seven years after its creation in Barcelona, in 1904, Hispano-Suiza settles in Levallois, France, to produce automobiles. Three years later, the company begins to make aircraft engines.




First flight across the Mediterranean, by Roland Garros, and first loops flown (by Pyotr Nesterov and Adolphe Pégoud). What these firsts have in common is that the aircraft are powered by Gnome engines.



Founding of Messier Automobiles, which quickly becomes SFMA (Société Française des Matériels d'Avion). The company changes its name to Messier in 1932 and specializes in aircraft landing gear.



Founding of the aircraft equipment company Labinal.



Creation of the company "Société d'Applications Générales d'Electricité et de Mécanique" (Sagem) by Marcel Môme. Originally focused on mechanical equipment, the company quickly specializes in precision equipment for the French navy. In 1939, Sagem takes over Société Anonyme de Télécommunications (SAT).


The Messier company develops the very first automatic aircraft brake.

1934 zodiac first boat


Zodiac develops the first prototypes of the inflatable boat designed for the civil and defense industry.



Joseph Szydlowski founds the company Turbomeca to make compressors for aircraft engines.



Gnome & Rhône is nationalized and renamed Snecma (Société Nationale d'Etude et de Construction de Moteurs d'Aviation), which also consolidates most French aero-engine manufacturers, some dating back to the turn of the century. 



The Atar 101V military engine, developed by Snecma, is the first French jet engine.



First flight of the Alouette II helicopter powered by a Turbomeca "Artouste" gas turbine. The Alouette II is the first turbine helicopter in the world to be mass produced.



SAT (Sagem) designs the world's first infrared guidance system for an air-to-air missile.



Flight of the first inertial reference system designed by Sagem. Four years later, the Diamant A rocket, guided by this type of system, will send the first French satellite into orbit.



Hispano-Suiza joins Snecma. The company now concentrates on manufacturing aircraft equipment. In 1970, Snecma is also joined by Messier.



First flight of the Concorde supersonic transport (SST), featuring a number of systems from Snecma (Olympus 593 engines, designed and developed by Snecma and Rolls-Royce, the electrically actuated braking system designed by Messier, main landing gear and braking control system developed by Hispano-Suiza, etc.). This flight marks the start of Snecma's business growth in the civil aviation market. 



First flight of the Alpha Jet trainer, powered by a Larzac jet engine developed jointly by Snecma and Turbomeca (subsequently deployed by 13 air forces and governments).



Snecma enters the commercial aviation engine market by signing a partnership agreement with General Electric Aircraft Engines to make the CFM56 turbofan, via their joint company, CFM International. The previous year, during the historic summit meeting in Reykjavik, Presidents Georges Pompidou and Richard Nixon had already laid the foundations for this partnership, which is still going on and has been renewed in 2008 until 2040. The CFM56 today remains the best selling aicraft engine in the world.


The CFM56 engine, developed, produced and sold by CFM International, the 50/50 joint company between Safran Aircraft Engines and GE, enters into service. The best selling engine in the history of civil aviation reached the 30 000th delivery milestone in 2016.



Messier-Hispano-Bugatti supplies the first carbon brake for a commercial airplane, an Airbus A300 (providing weight savings per aircraft of 550 kg). The very first carbon brakes had been developed a few years earlier, in conjunction with SEP, for the Dassault Aviation Mirage 2000 fighter.



Main shareholder of the SEP (Société Européenne de Propulsion), which had been created in 1944 as the SEPR (Société d'Etude de la Propulsion par Réaction), Snecma takes full control of the company, specialized in rocket propulsion. Space becomes a full fledged activity of Snecma.



Snecma strenghthens its aerospace activities with the acquisition of Turbomeca, Labinal and Hurel-Dubois (the latter allowing Snecma to consolidate its nacelle manufacturing business).

timeline_2005_Safran creation


Safran is created by the merger of Snecma and Sagem. The group specializes in aerospace, defense and security. Eleven years later, in 2016, all group companies gather under one single logo and their historic names change to reflect the Safran brand.



Europe launches a vast research program called Clean Sky, a Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) equally financed by the European Commission and the European aerospace industry (including Safran). The aim is to develop new technologies that will make air transport cleaner, quieter and more fuel-efficient.This partnership is renewed in 2014 under the name ‘Clean Sky 2' and aims at slashing CO2 emissions by passenger/km by 75% before 2050.



Safran and Airbus create a 50/50 joint venture, named Airbus Safran Launchers, then ArianeGroup in 2017, to offer a new family of launch vehicles, combining competitiveness, versatility and high performance. 



Inauguration of Safran Tech, the Group Research & Technology center, located in the Paris suburb of Saclay. Grouping nearly 300 researchers from many different horizons, Safran Tech was founded to pool the Group's different areas of expertise and foster breakthrough technologies.

LEAP-1A: chosen to power the Airbus A320neo


Entry into service of the LEAP engine. The latest generation single aisle aircraft engine, which is developed, produced and sold by CFM International, the 50/50 joint company between Safran Aircraft Engines and GE, starts revenue service on an Airbus A320neo operated by Pegasus Airlines.



After divesting its broadband communications and mobile phone businesses in 2008, Safran focuses even further on its core businesses of aerospace and defense with the completion of the sale of the Group's identity and security activities to Advent International.


Safran took control of Zodiac Aerospace, significantly expanding its aircraft equipment activities. The Group created 4 new companies, specialized in aerosystems and aircraft interiors.

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