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Commercy, four years on: a human based industrial success


Laurent, François, Rénald, Thomas and Jean-Yves were among the first to be hired and join Safran Aero Composite - a plant inaugurated on November 24, 2014 and dedicated to the production of 3D RTM woven composite fan blades and cases for the new LEAP engine, a product of CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines. These pioneers look back at four years that have marked their lives.

The story of Safran Aero Composite began long before the first blade left the production line. It started with the creation in 2012 of the Composites Center of Excellence. The teams, based at the Safran Aircraft Engines site in Villaroche, were tasked with setting up and then piloting the manufacture of 3D RTM composite parts, a Safran technology, for the LEAP engine, of which 2,000 units will be delivered per year by 2020. The equation is simple: with 18 fan blades per LEAP engine, Safran needs to create the industrial capacity to manufacture 36,000 blades and 2,000 fan cases per year!

As such, three production plants were built in partnership with Albany International, a specialist in industrial weaving: one plant in Rochester (New Hampshire, United States) and one in Commercy (Meuse, France), inaugurated in 2014, and one in Querétaro (Mexico), which initiated operations this year.

 "Commercy is, first and foremost, a huge human success! insists François, the facility’s Training Manager. For me, success is about being able to involve all of our employees in our journey. As early as 2012, significant human and material resources were rolled out to prepare for the launch of the plant. Job interviews for the "pioneers" began in February 2013, and the first training sessions followed shortly thereafter. In July of the same year, I went to Rochester, which was six months ahead of Commercy, and I was able to find out about the many initiatives launched by the American team in relation to recruitment and training. We took inspiration from the initiatives, adapting them to our region. The involvement of all brought about the inception of the Aerocomposite Center of Excellence at the Henri-Vogt Regional High School in Commercy. Three quarters of the plant's employees have gone through this training center. More generally, setting up operations here made it possible to offset the difficulties of the local employment pool. Almost 60% of Commercy's employees were unemployed before being recruited."

Experience and expertise

"I am one of the twelve first employees to be recruited. In the beginning, Safran was looking for profiles with industrial and/or aeronautical experience as well as interpersonal skills to support subsequent rounds of hires," recalls Renald, Methods Technician. Between New Hampshire and the Meuse, we followed solid theoretical and practical pathways to train for these new professions in composites.”

"In Rochester, the American colleagues were excellent trainers," says Jean-Yves, Quality Technician. "They have always been on hand for us, even though they were already really busy with production. Very sound professional relations have been established despite cultural differences. » 

"Safran has been very involved in the revival of the region, affected by the closure of Commercy military base," explains Laurent, Production Technician and former military officer. Today, I am a FOD-DOD* officer, an area of work for which consideration for people is essential. My past military experience is an asset to me in this role."

 The Commercy site now attracts many young people interested in industrial trades to the local area. This is the case with Lucas: "I have just received OSAC level 1 certification, in parallel with my one-year training as a tomographic control process technician (Non-destructive Testing). After spending six months with Safran Aero Composite, I now hope to be able to work permanently here, in Commercy!"


Commercy in figures

- November 2014: Inauguration

- First quarter 2016: first blades delivered

- September 2018: more than 10,000 blades and 500 casess manufactured

- More than 530 employees (Safran and Albany) working at the site 



*FOD-DOD: foreign object damage, domestic object damage

Safran is an international high-technology group and tier-1 supplier of systems and equipment in the Aerospace and Defense markets. Operating worldwide, Safran has nearly 58,000 employees and generated sales of 15.8 billion euros in 2016. Working alone or in partnership, Safran holds world or European leadership positions in its core markets. Safran undertakes Research & Development programs to meet fast-changing market requirements, with total R&D expenditures of 1.7 billion euros in 2016. Safran is listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange, and its share is part of the CAC 40 and Euro Stoxx 50 indices.

Safran Aircraft Engines designs, produces, sells, alone or in partnership, commercial and military aircraft engines offering world-class performance, reliability and environmental-friendliness. Through CFM International*, Safran Aircraft Engines is the world’s leading supplier of engines for short and medium-haul commercial jets.

*CFM is a 50/50 joint company between Safran Aircraft Engines and GE

For more information: www.safran-group.com and www.safran-aircraft-engines.com / Follow @Safran and @SafranEngines on Twitter

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