The past two years during the pandemic were a challenge for Safran Helicopter Engines, which adapted to the market by reducing costs and streamlining to protect its capacity to invest, according to Safran Helicopter Engines CEO Franck Saudo. The pandemic also brought positive developments, including a focus on decarbonization, he said.
“Since the early 2010s, we had developed low-carbon engine solutions, but there was limited market for it,” Saudo said. “But this has now changed. As a company, we aim to lead the decarbonization of the helicopter engine industry.”
He said Safran’s strategy for future powerplants is based on three pillars: more efficient engines, with the aim to reduce fuel consumption by 20 percent before 2030; hybrid-electric technologies; and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). An example of the first pillar is the company’s “Eco Mode” technology. Here, one engine of a twin-engine helicopter is put in stand-by mode during cruise flight, reducing fuel consumption by an additional 20 percent, according to Saudo.
Safran (Booth 6011) is collaborating distributed hybrid propulsion systems, including as part of the EcoPulse team that also includes Daher and Airbus. The team recently completed preliminary design review of the distributed hybrid propulsion aircraft demonstrator, which features ENGINeUS electric motors.
Regarding the last pillar, the company aims to certify its engine to use for 100 percent SAF in the coming years, which can potentially result in carbon emission reduction by up to 80 percent, he said. All Safran helicopter engines are currently certified to operate on up to a 50 percent SAF blend.
“Safran Helicopter Engines has been deploying SAF at is facilities since summer 2021,” Saudo explained. “All our engine tests at these facilities are now using a 10 percent SAF blend. This percentage will increase to 20 percent by the end of this year and 50 percent in 2025. This fits squarely with the commitment of our company to reduce its own carbon dioxide emissions as a company by 50 percent by 2025.”
He added, “The sustainable helicopter propulsion solutions that we have long believed in now fit squarely with the focus of the aviation market. Over the past 50 years, we have reduced helicopter engine fuel burn hence carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent. Our target is to reduce emissions by an additional 50 percent before 2030," according to Saudo.
Meanwhile, with the recovery of the helicopter market now underway, Safran Helicopter Engines expects its powerplant deliveries to increase by around 15 percent this year. “In parallel, our support and services activities will keep expanding in 2022 at an upper mid-single-digit growth rate,” according to Safran Helicopter Engines CEO Franck Saudo. “As a result, we will hire an additional 200 people worldwide in 2022.”