Safran, Albany inaugurate new 3-D carbon fiber aircraft engine parts plant

Albany International and Safran officially opened their new plant in Rochester, N.H., USA, where they will produce 3-D woven resin transfer molded composite parts for commercial aircraft engines.

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Jean-Paul Herteman, chairman and CEO of Safran, and Joseph Morone, president and CEO of Albany International Corp., inaugurated on March 31 a new plant in Rochester, N.H., USA, that will produce 3-D woven resin transfer molded (RTM) composite parts for aircraft engines.

The inauguration ceremony was held in the presence of representatives of the U.S. and French governments, including New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Kelly Ayotte, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, Rochester Mayor T.J., Jean, François Delattre, the Ambassador of the French Republic in the U.S., and Fabien Fieschi, Consul General of France.

The Rochester operations of Safran and Albany International are located in a new facility, about 300,000 ft2/27,871m2, situated in the Granite State Business Park. The plant, which opened during 2013, was built to produce 3-D woven composite parts using RTM technology for aircraft engine parts. The first application will be fan cases and fan blades for CFM International’s LEAP engine, dedicated to next-generation single-aisle aircraft. A total of 130 people currently are employed at the joint operation, with a total of 400 to 500 envisioned when full-rate production is attained.

For a full report on the new plant and its materials and processes, visit Albany Engineered Composites: Weaving the future in 3-D, published in the March issue of High-Performance Composites.

The foundation of the LEAP engine is deeply rooted in advanced aerodynamics, environmental and materials technologies. Particularly strong and lightweight, the 3-D RTM composite parts produced by Safran and Albany will contribute strongly to provide 15 percent better fuel consumption compared to today’s best CFM engine. Selected to power new and improved narrow-body commercial aircraft including the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320neo, the LEAP engine has achieved broad-based market acceptance with more than 6,000 engines ordered to date.

“I am very pleased to inaugurate this plant today along with our Albany International partner,” said Herteman. “Our presence in Rochester reflects our commitment to this state and to the U.S. For more than 40 years, through CFM International, our exceptional long-term partnership with GE, and both organic growth and acquisitions, Safran has become a formidable presence in the U.S. Our aim is to continue to expand our position and to contribute to the development of the aerospace and security markets as an American company, to ensure optimum service for our civil and military customers here,” he added.

Morone said, “Today’s event is an important milestone in a collaboration between Safran and Albany that began in 2000 as joint research and development and that has blossomed into the unique partnership epitomized by this plant. The strong relationships our two companies have formed with the State of New Hampshire and City of Rochester and their support of our joint effort have contributed immeasurably to the success we celebrate today.”

Safran and Albany have made significant investments in the Rochester plant, which features a state-of- the-art industrial design, and the two companies are also building a similar plant in Commercy, France, that will produce the same advanced composites parts for the LEAP engine. The Commercy plant will start operations mid-2014.