By Andrew Drwiega, Editor-in-Chief
Heli-Expo, Dallas: AVM magazine was invited to tour Safran Helicopter Engines USA and Safran Electronics & Defense Avionics facilities in Grand Prairie on Monday 6 March, the day before Heli-Expo officially opened. The facility provides engine assembly, engine MRO and customer support to North and South America.
Doug Dupont, USCG/USCBP key account manager stated that the facility had manufactured 134 Arrius and Arriel engines through two production lines in 2016, and was on target to achieve the same in 2017. The facility has capacity to ramp-up to a maximum of 500 engines per annum. it takes around 10 days to build an engine using five module lines.
Engine MRO is a core part of the business with each engine received now taking slightly less than 60 days to be returned to the customer, a marked improvement which has been the result of a company wide drive to reduce turn-around times. Last year the facility turned around 465 engines through its MRO shops and this year is expected to handle a minimum of 420. The workforce is organised on a two-shift basis.
Safran’s US business accounts for 25 percent of the company’s global revenues with Boeing being its largest customer. Safran supports three large US government helicopter fleets. The U.S. Army’s Airbus UH-72 Lakota is powered by two Arriel 1E2 tuboshaft engines with a total of 800 engines to be maintained; the U.S. Coast Guard uses the MH-65 Dolphin with its twin Arriel 2C2-CG engines – adding another 200 to Safran’s care list. The third Federal customer is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency with its 60+ AS350 A-Stars powered by Arriel 2B engines and 20+ Ec120s with Arrius 2F engines.