The research centre at the Le Bouchet site in Itteville France spans 10,000 square metres and will ultimately be staffed by 150 recognised specialists in composite materials, including technicians, engineers and doctoral scientists, who will deploy state-of-the-art machinery and equipment for all phases in the development cycle, from research to prototyping.

Organic matrix composites are becoming more strategic than ever for Safran with the development of the new LEAP engine, successor to the best-selling CFM56. Featuring fan blades and cases made using a proprietary 3D woven composite process, LEAP engines will power new-generation single-aisle commercial jets from both Airbus and Boeing starting in 2016.

Safran adds that this dedicated research centre will enable it to continue to extend the scope of application and performance of composite materials. Combining light weight with high strength and temperature resistance, advanced composites will help meet the pressing challenge of producing aircraft with reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

According to Safran, the new Composites research and technology centre will play a triple role in addressing these goals by:
• continuing work already under way on innovative composite technologies, such as 3D weaving;
• exploring new research paths, including higher temperature-resistant resins, within the scope of research partnerships bringing together academia, research labs, specialised small businesses, etc.; and
• facilitating the circulation of these technologies across all Safran companies.

"Safran Composites is the tangible result of an industrial strategy anchored in technological innovation, and reflects our strong position within the French business and science communities. By integrating our skills and expertise, we will bolster our technological and competitive leadership in the global marketplace," Jean-Paul Herteman said.

The site at Le Bouchet is already home to facilities for two Group companies - Herakles, which operates an energetic materials research centre, and Structil, the Herakles subsidiary specialising in composite materials. The installation of Safran Composites will expand the capabilities of the Le Bouchet site by fostering cross-disciplinary exchanges and synergies with the engineers and technicians already working in the existing facilities.