Interview | CEO, Safran India, Stephane Lauret

‘Nearly 800 Platforms Deployed by the Indian Armed Forces Are Equipped with Safran Inertial Reference Systems’

What was the idea behind rebranding all Safran companies in May 2016?

Safran is an international high-technology group and Tier-1 supplier of systems and equipment in the aerospace and defence markets. To bolster the Group’s position as a global industrial leader and accelerate its international growth, Safran changed its visual identity and evolved as a brand in May last year.

Prestigious brands like SNECMA, TURBOMECA, and SAGEM are now called Safran Aircraft Engines, Safran Helicopter Engines, Safran Electronics and Defense, respectively. This change in name has allowed the company to unite efforts and focus all the investments on a single brand, to the greater benefit of all the businesses of Safran worldwide. Furthermore, the brand will be nurtured strongly and in turn the companies will be nurtured by Safran’s image and renown.

Hence, all Group companies are now communicating under a single brand name and logo: Safran. At the same time, Safran launched its new brand tagline, ‘Powered by trust’, which reflects the confidence delivered by Safran’s people, over and above the technologies invented across the Group.

The name Safran is now the reflection of 58,000 employees across the globe belonging to one global enterprise and sharing the same values.


What are Safran’s areas of interest in India at the moment and what opportunities do you see in the near future?

Our strategy was, is and will be to focus on developing India through the ‘Make in India’ programme. Now that Safran Identity and Security (provided biometrics for Aadhar project in India) division has been sold out worldwide, the focus is on aerospace and defence markets.

In India, Safran is a full-fledged partner in the development of the Indian air transport sector, mainly as a supplier of engines, equipment and support services for both airplanes and helicopters.

As a reminder, Safran provides engines and/or equipment for more than 70 per cent of India’s airplanes and helicopters.

In the civil aviation sector, the growth of domestic passengers has been more than 20 per cent last year, which is much more than the worldwide increase. When I arrived in India four and half years ago, India was the seventh largest market and now it is the third, which is very impressive.

Additionally, Safran has been a supplier to the Indian armed forces since the Fifties and at present we are the leading supplier of turbine engines for helicopters deployed by the Indian Army. As a major contributor to the 36 Rafale fighters acquired by India in 2016, Safran provides a wide variety of systems and equipment including the aircraft’s M88 engines, power transmission system, landing gear, wheels and carbon brakes, ring laser gyro inertial navigation system, gyros for the fly-by-wire system, the auxiliary power unit (APU) and all wiring. In addition, Safran is prime contractor for the AASM Hammer modular air-to-ground weapon.

There are opportunities in all the sectors as Safran offers high-standard solutions not only for fighter aircrafts and helicopters but all other Indian combat platforms such as UAVs, submarines, surface ships, artillery, tanks, etc.


Is the MRO joint venture with HAL for helicopter engines operational? Will this JV also cater to customers other than India?

The former defence minister Manohar Parrikar inaugurated Helicopter Engines MRO Pvt. Limited (HE-MRO), a Joint Venture of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Safran Helicopter Engines (SafranHE), France at Sattari District, North Goa last October.

The JV focuses on providing maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for Safran TM333 2B2 and HAL Shakti engines installed on HAL-built helicopters operated by the defence services. In addition to carrying out overhaul activities at Goa, the JV will also provide support through Certified Maintenance Centres located centrally at customer bases.


Safran had signed an agreement with both IIT Delhi and IISC Bengaluru. What has been the progress on this cooperation?

Safran has established partnerships with leading Indian science and education institutions to foster the emergence of increasingly innovative technologies and solutions. Our collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi, for example, focuses on advanced subjects such as ‘The Internet of Things’ and processors and parallel processing.

We believe that in our high-tech business sectors, today’s innovations, and the talent behind them, will ensure tomorrow’s successes. We appreciate and encourage the talent in Indian education institutions and we continue to study various projects in conjunction with local aviation and space companies.


Given the range of its activities in India, do you see a possibility of Safran Electronics and Defence getting involved in a ‘Make in India’ programme with one of the Indian companies to cater to the Indian armed forces, either in the field of INS, future infantry soldier or unattended ground sensors etc.?

For Safran, ‘Make in India’ is not a possibility; it’s a must! And it’s been a reality for decades.

Indeed, as a major player in the global market for optronics, avionics and inertial navigation, Safran supplies systems for many different Indian combat platforms, such as fighter aircraft, surface ship, submarines, artillery, tanks, etc. For instance, nearly 800 platforms deployed by the Indian armed forces are equipped with Safran inertial reference systems.

In 2015, Safran signed a technology transfer agreement with HAL, concerning the production and maintenance in India of Sigma 95 laser gyro navigation units for the Indian armed forces. Safran is also bolstering ties with local customers through its subsidiary Safran Electronics & Defense Services India, by developing maintenance and other services for Safran avionics, optronics and navigation systems deployed in India.


The new DPP is now in the public domain, including the much awaited chapter on Strategic Partnership. How will this influence Safran’s activities and interests in India?

For us, things are moving in the right direction and we will follow the government of India’s requests. Meanwhile, Safran is moving on its own with its numerous partners in India.


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