Safran positioned for growth in onboard electrical systems
No-one should be surprised that
Indeed, to help pay for the acquisition, UTC looked to raise
The GEPS sale, it turns out, was far more significant than it appeared at the time. When the 2013 Paris air show rolled around three months later, Safran was talking about consolidating its three three electrical businesses Â
Now, Safran has got 2014 off to a noteworthy start. At
Coming just a couple of weeks after its formal consolidation of its power systems businesses under the
The other, notes Cojan, is
Typically, he says, airframers will probably choose not to entrust an entire programmeÂs electrical systems engineering and supply to a single entity. But the 787 example, in which three separate contracts went to divisions of one company, highlights the value of being able to grapple with the intricacies of primary and back-up power generation, high- and low-power distribution networks, transformers, routing and system monitoring.
The newest aircraft, says Cojan, have the complexity of an electric utility and, as airliners increasingly become designed around electric, rather than hydraulic systems, the demand for sophisticated electrical power management is only going to become more intense. Hence, the building of a comprehensive electrical systems capability in what is now the
Getting to this stage involved a combination of ground-up research and acquisition. Building on the existing
Then, says Cojan, a string of acquisitions filled gaps Â including in power generation, which is GEPSÂs expertise, along with power network management.
The importance of the Eaton business just acquired is that it is one of very few in the world that can design switches handling the biggest electric loads found on aircraft. When the company came onto the market, says Cojan, Safran made the decision to buy in that capability rather than develop it from scratch.
Most actuation today, he notes, is still hydraulic. The A380, for example, features electrically actuated flaps and the Safran-designed thrust reverser, but has hydraulic brakes. And while the 787 pioneered electrically actuated brakes, it still flies on hydraulic flaps. In 15 or 20 years, Cojan expects, most systems will have gone to electric actuation Â but hydraulics wonÂt disappear any time soon.
Twenty years from now, for example, he expects landing gear actuation to be the biggest single consumer on an aircraft, demanding far more power than any other function. But to design an efficient electric power system able to handle both normal loads and a large power spike for maybe a minute per flight is no small engineering challenge. Whether this particular function remains hydraulic Â possibly just locally, with fluid pressure built up by electric pumps Â or goes fully electric, remains to be seen.
What is clear, though, is that the goal is to optimise the system. And that is best achieved, says Cojan, by a company that understands power generation, distribution and end use.
In the coming years, there will be some opportunities to demonstrate such a capability on some new business jet programmes, which will be more electric than the existing fleet. But ultimately, he says, the end game of this technology strategy is to position Safran for a leading role in the middle of the next decade, when airframers gear up to launch the next generation of narrowbody airliners, to replace the A320neo and 737 Max.
Meanwhile, he adds, Safran knows about patience. After all, when it partnered with GE to launch the CFM56 turbofan in the 1970s, a decade passed before it became clear that this powerplant would be the best-selling engine ever.
Most Popular Stories
- SoCalGas Reaches Record Spend on Diversity Suppliers
- Menendez Introduces Tough Sanctions Against Russia
- Republican Jolly Wins Fla. Special Election
- World Wide Web Turns 25
- Senate Dems Pull All-Nighter on Global Warming
- Obama Seeks Overtime Pay for Salaried Workers
- Clarke Replaces Perez at Eastman Kodak
- Vestas Ramps Up Hiring to Build Wind Turbines
- Copper Plunges on China Jitters
- Jan Brewer Out on Term Limits