February 13, 2019
Year after year, Safran provides further proof of the capital importance of innovation. The Group's R&D investments in 2017 hit 1.4 billion euros, and a number of new projects saw the light of day. In 2005, the Group created Safran Innovation Awards, which recognize employees' most promising innovations, whether concerning new technologies or suggestions from the shop floor. These awards clearly illustrate Safran's willingness to listen to new ideas and foster their development and application.
The yearly awards ceremony took on a new look this year, since it moved to Safran's R&T center in Saclay, near Paris, and also welcomed the very first class of Safran "intrapreneurs", following an initiative launched at the end of 2018. The Group's suppliers and selected startups were also invited, along with all members of the Safran Executive Committee.
Nearly 100 projects were submitted for consideration this year by teams from all Group companies, reflecting the all-out engagement of employees from around the world. Nearly one-third of these innovative projects were submitted by employees of the former Zodiac Aerospace, now part of Safran after being acquired in 2018.
The proposed innovations covered multiple fields and also represented the different business sectors in Safran. The prizewinners in the five categories for the 2019 Innovation Awards are as follows:
Product - Technology - Patent: The Open Rotor demonstrator, developed through the European research program Clean Sky*, is a propulsion system designed to meet the future needs of aircraft manufacturers and operators. It features a disruptive architecture, based on unshrouded dual counter-rotating fans, enabling it to reduce fuel consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions, by 30% in relation to the CFM56**.
Service: IFE Recommender, a solution that gives airline passengers solutions tailored to their needs, based on data collected beforehand, or according to preferences expressed during previous flights.
Operational Excellence and Competitiveness: Diag Noise, a system that analyzes and interprets acoustic and vibratory signals from electric motors and fans in order to identify parts with potential defects and thus guide operators in choosing a repair or replacement.
Open Innovation: Vision Technology, a new collaborative technology that automates the visual inspection of Airbus A350 electrical cabinets, thus improving inspection efficiency on the 2,000 points that have to be checked.
Field Innovation: Mains d'argent ("Silver hands"), gloves with integrated lights to improve lighting for operators and help them better perform assigned tasks in poorly lit areas. Until now, they mainly used headlamps or flashlights.
Commenting on this annual innovation celebration, Safran CEO Philippe Petitcolin said: "Innovation is more than ever at the core of Safran's strategy, because it's a key to maintaining our world-class status in all of our markets. The number of patents filed by Safran has increased yearly, and our position as the third largest aerospace company in the world, except for planemakers, is primarily due to our ability to innovate. We must naturally continue along this path. Bringing suppliers and startups into this event adds value for Safran, and also reflects our commitment to working with all players in our sector."
Safran's self-financed R&D expenditures will represent 6% to 7% of its annual revenues from 2018 to 2022. For the eighth year in a row, Safran was named one of the world's Top 100 Global Innovators by Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson-Reuters).
*Clean Sky is a public-private European research program between the European Commission and the aerospace industry, launched in 2008.
** Developed and built by CFM International, the 50/50 joint company between Safran Aircraft Engines and GE