GP7200: Safran’s contribution to the engine of the A380
56%: this is the current market share of the GP7200, one of the high-power engines that equips the Airbus A380. Snecma (Safran group), responsible for the high-pressure compressor, participates in this program, developed by Engine Alliance*, a joint venture between General Electric and Pratt & Whitney. "We account for 20% of GE's share in the operation, i.e.: 10% of the engine," explains Bertrand Hugueny, High-Power Engines Program Director at Snecma. "We are in charge of the nine-stage high-pressure compressor and its maintenance," he says. Other companies of the Safran group are also involved in the propulsion system, for the low-pressure compressor and FADEC unit, along with the nacelle and thrust reverser.
Experience in catering to requirements
The high-pressure compressor is a particularly complex assembly: "The GP7200 delivers between 70,000 and 77,000 lbs of thrust," explains Jean-Yves Bezard, program manager: "An engine in this thrust class is particularly complex to design, especially with us having to comply with ambitious weight restrictions. This required the use of cutting-edge technologies, such as integrally-bladed rotors (blisks), inertia friction welding of the drums, and so on. We have drawn on the experience acquired on the GE90, another high-power engine developed in conjunction with GE."
A satisfied customer
The wager has paid off: the GP7200 offers unparalleled performance in terms of reliability and added-value for the companies using it. "The feedback from Airbus has been first-rate," says Bertrand Hugueny. "We have exceeded the requirements of the technical specifications by providing extra fuel efficiency in the order of around 1.5% compared to the initial spec and to the rival engine, equating to savings of around half a million dollars per aircraft per year for the operator!"
Specially designed for the A380, this engine has a bright future ahead of it: "124 aircraft have been ordered to date with the GP7200 engine," Jean-Yves Bezard points out. "The production rate is on the increase, and in late spring 2011 we shall be delivering the 150th high-pressure compressor."
* The Engine Alliance is a grouping dedicated to the design and manufacture of the engine for the A380.