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Snecma kicks off construction of a new world-class engine test stand in southern France

Snecma (Safran) officially started the construction of a second open-air engine test stand at its facility located at French air force base 125 in Istres, southern France. The keystone ceremony was attended by Stéphane Bouillon, Prefect of the Provence-Alps-Côte d'Azur (PACA, the French Riviera and surrounding areas) and Bouches-du-Rhône regions, Martine Vassal, Chairman of the Bouches-du-Rhône Departmental Council and President of Provence Promotion, Bernard Morel, Vice Chairman of the PACA Regional Council, René Raimondi, Chairman of San Ouest-Provence, and François Bernardini, Mayor of Istres.

The new installation, comprising a test stand featuring a design that is unique in Europe and a building housing all control systems, is on a par with the best engine test facilities in the world. It will be up and running in May 2016 to test the new LEAP* engine and the Open Rotor** demonstrator. It could also be used for other engine configurations that Snecma will be testing in the coming years.

Snecma's second test rig at this site will cover some 80,000 square meters (864,000 sq ft). It joins the first test rig, installed in 1969 and used for the development of Snecma's commercial and military aircraft engines. This first rig is currently being used to test Snecma's new-generation Silvercrest business jet engine***.

Snecma invested some 15 million euros in this new test facility, with support from the federal, regional and departmental governments. One of the challenges facing this pivotal project, a key to the future and an engine of local employment, is to energize the aviation industry in the PACA region by giving the Istres site a greater role in the development of new commercial jet engines, featuring greater fuel efficiency to increase their environmental friendliness.

"Building on support from the federal, regional and departmental governments, Snecma is renewing its commitment to Istres and the entire region, so we can bolster our development efforts for tomorrow's commercial aircraft engines, said Cédric Goubet, Safran's Executive Vice President for Commercial Engines.

This new engine test stand, weighing over 100 tons, is based on a pylon stretching 18 meters high (almost 60 feet). It features a brand-new "two-head" design, enabling it to handle engines with different architectures, and also has a data acquisition system with 1,200 measurement lines (via 9,200 meters of fiber-optics), for fuel consumption, dynamic and mechanical performance, acoustics, etc. A new control systems building covering some 660 square meters (7,128 sq ft) will be located near the test stand to enhance the collection and analysis of test data.

The Istres site has already doubled its workforce to keep pace with this development. Ninety employees (from Safran companies Snecma, Safran Engineering Services and Labinal Services) are now working at the site, versus 45 in 2013 – and by 2020, the total headcount should reach 150.

* The LEAP engine is jointly produced and marketed by CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (Safran) of France and GE of the United States. .
** The open rotor is an unshrouded engine with counter-rotating fans. As part of Europe's vast Clean Sky research program, Snecma is in charge of the SAGE2 project, which aims to ground test a demonstrator of a pusher configuration open rotor engine starting in 2016.
*** The Silvercrest is a new-generation engine from Snecma, purpose-designed to meet the requirements of the super mid-size business jet segment. It has already been chosen to power the Dassault Aviation Falcon 5X and the Cessna Citation Longitude.

Press release issued by Safran Aircraft Engines on September 15, 2015


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