Could you give a brief introduction to Safran Landing Systems and describe the evolution of the company?
Our company, Safran Landing Systems, is part of Safran, an international high-technology group and member of the 40 largest companies from France (CAC 40). The Group employs over 70,000 people in 60 different countries and holds world leadership positions in its core businesses: aerospace, defense, and security. Safran Landing Systems is organized into four operational divisions: Landing Gear and Systems Integration (the largest division representing over half of the company’s turnover), Systems Equipment, Wheels and Brakes, and MRO. In May 2016, Safran changed the names of all the group companies to include the name Safran followed by a description of the product the company produces. We are thus no longer Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, but rather Safran Landing Systems. With over 50% market share in the landing gear sector, we are the world leader in aircraft landing and braking systems and a partner to more than 30 airframers, including Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Dassault.
Could you elaborate on Safran Landing Systems’ presence in Ontario?
Safran has been operating in Canada for over 70 years and is now a major local player in our three core markets with 1,200 employees across the country. We moved our site to Ajax, Ontario in 1949 and consolidated operations at the current site in 1968. Safran’s plant in Ajax is a full service facility where we specialize in the design, development, production and maintenance of aircraft landing systems for military and commercial aircraft. We employ approximately 700 people on-site, including technicians, engineers, MRO personnel, a systems integration team and other industry professionals. We have a specific systems and equipment skill set here in Ajax, as on the Bombardier platforms we supply all the systems and equipment as well as the landing gear. We also have on site a state of the art test facility where we perform various qualification tests on new landing gear such as strength, fatigue, endurance, environmental, and drop test. Our site in Ajax houses all of the engineering and administrative functions that manage the day-to-day business for our North American landing gear and systems integration programs. Coordination with our global supply chain and other Safran Landing Systems sites in North America, Asia and Europe also occurs in Ajax.
What are some of the benefits of operating in Ontario?
Ontario is the global hub for landing gear and there is a significant concentration of landing gear manufacturers here bringing a wealth of experience and capabilities. With this established core of tier one landing gear companies we also have a mature, well situated local supply chain, which we rely heavily on for the manufacturing of smaller detail parts and special processing capabilities such as heat-treatment and plating.
Overall, Ontario has ingrained knowledge, a broad skill base and significant local expertise. The province has developed a very mature supply chain and a supporting infrastructure that includes world-class technical post-secondary institutions. The region rivals any in the world for imbedded aerospace expertise and mature industrial capabilities, which bodes well for the current increased demand in our industry.
What differentiates Safran in a competitive market?
Safran Landing Systems is the world leader in aircraft landing and braking systems and it is our product that gives us a competitive edge in the market. Operators and airframers understand that we are on the leading edge in terms of material technologies, corrosion prevention and costs. Our capabilities encompass the full life cycle of our products, from research and technology to development, manufacturing, support in service and maintenance.
Within Safran Landing Systems, we are able to cover the full ATA chapter 32 of commercial aircraft landing systems, which allows us to deliver system solutions and integrated landing system packages to our customers. This capability offers airframers a single source for their needs, saving time and cost in terms of design and oversight and this differentiates us from our competitors.
On what areas is Safran focusing R&D?
Safran Landing Systems is at the leading edge of developing an electric taxiing system. A green taxiing system can significantly improve airline operational efficiency by reducing fuel burn and other taxi related costs, as well as providing environmental benefits by cutting the carbon emissions that normally occur during regular taxiing. Using the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) generator to power motors installed on the main landing gear wheels, electric taxiing allows aircraft to push-back from the gate without requiring the use of the engines. This is one way Safran Landing Systems is changing the market place to not only better serve our customers, but also better serve our planet.
Safran has recently rebranded each of the group companies to include the Safran name. What is your expectation for the company going towards the future?
The aim is to generate a wider understanding of who Safran is. We are not individual pieces of a puzzle, but rather a large group with a shared culture of leading edge technology and innovation. This change should provide our market place with a clearer view of Safran’s capabilities and allow us to leverage each of the group companies’ specific strengths to provide our customers more complete and competitive offerings.
Our goal in Ontario is to continue supporting our North American customers through our hub in Ajax and maintain the manufacturing workload by replacing programs that are winding down with new work.