Safran plans to locate third Safran/Albany composites facility in Mexico

The new plant, in Querétaro, Mexico, will mirror those in New Hampshire and France, producing carbon fiber fan blades for CFM International's LEAP engine.

Philippe Petitcolin, CEO of Safran (Paris, France), on Feb. 12 inaugurated a new 10,000m2 facility in Querétaro, Mexico. SAMES Rep (Snecma America Engine Service) will be dedicated to the repair of CFM56 engine parts. During his remarks at the inauguration Petitcolin also announced the construction of a third Safran/Albany plant, in Querétaro, to produce composite parts for the new LEAP engine, the successor to the CFM56.

SAMES Rep is Safran's 10th plant in Mexico, and was created to address the need for a repair facility serving the American market. By providing local repair of high-tech engine parts which were previously replaced (high-pressure turbine rings and supports, low-pressure turbine guide vanes), this plant will help Safran maintain the competitiveness of its repair business and also consolidate its presence in this market. The plant started operations in February 2015. To keep pace with expected growth, the plant will increase its workforce from 75 employees today to nearly 150 following production ramp-up.

Safran says it has decided to build a third composites plant in conjunction with Albany Engineered Composites (Manchester, NH, US), this time in Mexico, because of the record order book for the new LEAP engine (more than 10,000 on order, even before its entry into service, scheduled in a few months) and because of the rise in production rates requested by aircraft manufacturers, especially Boeing for the 737 MAX. The new plant will be built along the same lines as the two existing Safran/Albany plants, in Rochester, NH (inaugurated March 2014) and Commercy, France (inaugurated November 2014).

Locating this new plant in Querétaro will enhance the efficiency of the global supply chain for the LEAP engine. Parts produced here are intended for the American market (on the Boeing 737 MAX, powered by LEAP engines exclusively), while the Commercy plant will primarily make parts for engines powering Airbus jetliners, mainly in Europe. This latest plant will capitalize on its location near Snecma Mexico, as well as Albany's production plant in Cuautitlan (State of Mexico).

The plant will start producing fan blades made of 3D woven composites at the end of 2017. Production volumes will rise sharply the following year, reaching an annual rate of more than 20,000 blades in 2021. To meet this objective, the plant will hire nearly 500 employees.

"The inauguration of this new plant in Mexico, and the upcoming construction of a third Safran/Albany facility, in Queretaro, clearly show this country's importance in Safran's international development strategy," said Philippe Petitcolin. "Safran is the largest investor in Mexico's aerospace industry and its leading employer, with nearly 6,000 employees. Because of the dynamic Mexican economy, coupled with a highly qualified workforce, we can provide closer support for our airline customers in the Americas and better meet their expectations in this fiercely competitive market." 

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