The production site of the LEAP engine composite fan cases and fan blades, seen here in the picture, was inaugurated on March 31, in the snow; and it's no coincidence that the plant is located in the United States at Rochester, New Hampshire, a hundred kilometers ( 60 miles ) north of Boston. Albany International, a Safran partner company, has been established here for half a century, and who, being specialized in “engineered fabrics'' weaving, and in conjunction with the French manufacturer, succeeded after 14 years of effort, in developing a unique process of manufacturing composite 3D woven parts, but to what end ?...
Bruno DAMBRINE - Composites expert - Safran Group
"The basic requisite is that the carbon threads need to be placed exactly where they are most solicited in the blade; with weaving we can do that, rather than simply super-imposing multiple layers of composite plies of fabric; thus better enabling the blade also to withstand shocks from bird strikes or similar incidents."
With more than 6,000 units already ordered, the success of the LEAP engine is undeniable. It will equip the A-320-neo by 2016, then the Comac C-919 and 737-MAX the following year. To cope with the demand, 500 employees will eventually work at this 28,000 m2 ( > 300,000 sq.ft. ) plant. A new presence in the United States for the Safran group, whose clients include Boeing, the U.S. Air Force and many U.S. airlines.
Jean- Paul HERTEMAN - Chief Executive Officer - Safran Group
"The U.S. market alone represents about 25% of Safran's activities. The U.S. is quite naturally our second biggest operations base after France, with 7,000 people in the United States, and 40,000 in France."
A second site identical to that of Rochester is also due to open late April at Commercy, 300 k's ( 190 miles ) east of Paris. By 2019, Safran Aero Composites intends to produce more than 30,000 fan blades per year, enough to supply the some 1,500 LEAP engines each year.