Hybridization jobs on the rise at Safran
As we work towards decarbonizing aviation, Safran is counting on hybrid propulsion to reach ambitious goals by 2025. What skills are needed in this transition? Updates from Vincent Garnier, the Director of the Safran Tech Research & Technology Center.
Safran’s efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of air transport date back quite a ways. For a long time, the Group has been working to lighten equipment and improve the energy performance of its engines. Over the last few years, one promising solution has been gaining traction: propulsion hybridization. “Hybridizing a vehicle means combining two sources of energy for propulsion,” explains Vincent Garnier. “In Safran’s case, it means introducing a certain amount of electric power to run the thrusters, either adapting current engines or breaking the current mold entirely and developing true hybrid electric systems.”
Mastering high power
In order to rise to these technical challenges, the Group needs to have its job roles evolve and it needs to foster skills in very specific fields, such as mastering high voltages and high power. “Strictly speaking, there won’t be new job roles,” says Vincent Garnier, “but significant changes will occur to account for the issues specifically related to hybridization.” Designing the electrical systems of the future will require employees with electrical, mechanical, thermal, and mechatronic skills. Those who work with wiring will need to learn to handle new materials, both conductors and insulators, that are lighter and stronger. Power electronics, which is critical to electric signal quality, will explore new frontiers in architecture and in integrating power components.
All jobs related to systems will also need to expand to help support the rise of hybridization: electric systems architecture to design innovative hybrid chains, engineering systems to optimize operations down to the smallest component, and energy systems architecture to manage interactions between the thermal and electric systems. This is not to mention jobs relating to electromagnetic compatibility that already exist within the Group and which will only become more critical.
Many needs both internally and externally
Where can we obtain these skills? “Some of the skills already exist within the company and will be fostered through training sessions. “Other skills will need to be sought externally from dissertations and by targeted recruiting of young engineers or experienced specialists.”
Many companies within the Group are involved in this race to attract talent. This includes the companies that are already working on high powered electric systems (including Safran Electrical & Power and Safran Electronics & Defense) and of course those designing thrusters or on-board electric systems (including Safran Aircraft Engines, Safran Helicopter Engines, and Safran Power Units).
The choice of the future
Because hybridization is the way forward! “The smallest hybrid propulsion systems (just tens or hundreds of kilowatts) will be the first to appear on the market starting in 2025 through new applications in commuter or urban transport aircraft,” shares Vincent Garnier. “Higher powered ones (a few megawatts) will come later, maybe between 2025 and 2030, in regional aircraft. At the same time, the hybridization of heat engines will lead to electrically-assisted thrusters which will use less energy and be more flexible.”
The Safran Tech director has no doubt that hybridization careers have a bright future in store within the Group. “Because of their applications to propulsion, electrical jobs that already exist within the Group will become a core career type at Safran just like materials and mechanical roles. Going into this field is a wise choice and guarantees opportunities to reinvent your professional path because we are at the dawn of this type of work and everything remains to be written!”