Antoine Burghart, Systems Engineer and Innovative Programmes Facilitator
Antoine Burghart is a lead engineer in charge of operations in Safran Electrical & Power's innovative electrical systems project. He works principally on the electrical systems of future means of air transport. He tells us about his career and his daily life within the company, which is never the same from one day to the next.
Antoine graduated from INSA (National Institute of Applied Sciences) in Toulouse with a specialisation in electronics and automatic systems. The internship he undertook at the end of his studies turned out to be a determining factor in his career. It was an international volunteer programme at Boeing, in Seattle, where he worked on behalf of Thales. “I provided technical support for the client in installing Thales equipment on the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner in 2009. The company had supplied power conversion and voltage management systems and the batteries. I was there, from the delivery of the first prototype to the test campaign,” he explains. This experience, with Boeing as his client, taught him a great deal, from the integration of electrical systems and understanding of operational scenarios, to the analysis of problems and so on.
“This volunteer programme opened up many opportunities to me when I returned to France,” he continues. For the following two years, he worked as Electrical System Designer at Aeroconseil. “My last assignment was at Hispano-Suiza, now Safran Transmission Systems. The company had just won the KC390 contract: their first large-scale electrical power distribution project. I helped in the specification of the system's various functions, working alongside the client Embraer.” In 2012, Antoine was recruited by Safran. He continued to work on the KC390 project, travelling between Paris, Toulouse and Sao Paolo, until the distribution system was delivered to the client. Safran's electrical activities are grouped together within Safran Electrical & Power, which is taking over the full integration of the Embraer aircraft's electrical system on a test bench in Colombes. Antoine helped the teams in this new mission for one year. “We had to be able to interact with the aircraft manufacturer and turn the client's technical specifications into a concrete and operational proposal. That was my speciality,” he said.
In 2016, using the new skills he had acquired, he went on to tackle the EcoDemonstrator© project as lead systems engineer. “Every two years, Boeing conducts a flight testing campaign on an aircraft that tests all emerging technologies from potential suppliers. As part of this campaign, Safran Electrical & Power provided a full electrical channel for a Boeing 777: a first on a commercial Boeing aircraft!” Antoine's role in the programme consisted in liaising with the Safran teams responsible for designing the various pieces of equipment of the channel. He was also in charge of checking that the subsystems were compatible with each other and met the client's needs. “We worked with seven sites, in four countries and five different time zones. We managed to deliver in 18 months when it should have taken twice that time. This incredible feat brought together 150 people and was a very proud moment for all involved,” he enthuses.
Coordinating electrical and innovative projects is a role that means a great deal to Antoine, and one that he is now applying to the transport of the future. “I hold the same position as lead engineer on the EcoDemonstrator© project, but here I'm working on hybrid propulsion systems for VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft. Safran is being contacted by market players, such as Bell, who are looking for electric propulsion solutions. We have created a whole new department dedicated to this.”
When asked what he enjoys most in his job, Antoine had several answers: “First, having general systems expertise means I have to turn to leading experts in their field who design the subsystems. I learn a lot from them and am building a network of people I can count on to meet technical challenges. I think of myself as a facilitator and conductor, helping all the teams from the different subsystems to communicate and find common solutions so that the final system meets the client's needs. I also manage the project's budget, which increases my responsibilities. And most importantly, it's never boring. I go on missions all over the world and each day is different.”