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An outsized arrival for Safran Nacelles’ A320neo nacelle production at Le Havre


October 4, 2016

Safran Nacelles’ significant manufacturing capability enhancements for the A320neo program have marked a new milestone with a “big” delivery: the arrival of a 70-ton autoclave for the production of composite components at the company’s Le Havre, France manufacturing site.

Completing a road trip from Germany, this 14-meter-long, 5-meter-wide unit is now ready for installation in a new 800-square-meter building at the Le Havre/Gonfreville-l’Orcher site, which is Safran Nacelles’ primary industrial facility.

When in operation, the newly-arrived autoclave will be dedicated to the manufacture of the inner fixed structure (IFS) used in nacelles that equip CFM International LEAP-1A engines on Airbus A320neo family jetliners. The autoclave provides elevated temperature and pressure conditions (200° C / 7 bar) required for curing the high-performance, lightweight composite component.

Supporting an unprecedented ramp-up in civil aviation production

Safran Nacelles has overall responsibility for the A320neo nacelle’s design and its integration with the LEAP-1A high-bypass turbofan jet engine, as well as delivering the complete propulsion system to Airbus. Following its selection by Airbus in 2011, Safran Nacelles spent the following several years preparing and implementing A320neo nacelle production – meeting the challenge of accelerating the output rate for one of the civil aviation industry’s most rapid ramp-ups in jetliner deliveries.

Acquisition and installation of the new autoclave at Le Havre represents an investment of approximately 1 million euros for the unit, along with 1.5 million euros for the new building that houses it.

As the “new engine option” variant of Airbus’ best-selling A320 single-aisle jetliner family, the A320neo follows the A320ceo (current engine option) version that has been in airline service since 1988. 

Safran Nacelles’ selection as the A320neo nacelle provider builds on the company’s multi-decade role as producer of the thrust reversers for A320ceo’s CFM International CFM-56 engines.

Safran Nacelles is targeting the output of 560 A320neo nacelles in 2019, which is three years after the initial delivery to Airbus during June. In comparison, the company’s output of A320ceo thrust reversers reached the 560 milestone 30 years after Safran Nacelles started its deliveries of this nacelle system element.