Towards greener cleaning


Safran Helicopter Engines SA is a member of the Safran Group.

Safran Helicopter Engines SA is the world’s leading manufacturer of rotorcraft turbines and the only one dedicated exclusively to this market. Operating worldwide, it has more than 2,500 customers in 155 countries, and 22,000 engines in service.

Offering the widest range of products, from 500 to 3,000 shaft horsepower, Safran Helicopter Engines has been committed to design and manufacturing excellence for more than 80 years. The company partners with major helicopter manufacturers across the globe and its products feature aboard the very latest designs, including the brand-new Airbus Helicopters H160, Bell 505, Leonardo AW189K, Avicopter AC352, Russian Helicopters Ka-62, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited LUH and Korea Aerospace Industries LCH.

The company’s top priority is to provide safe, reliable and high-performing engines, to help its customers stay focused on their missions and to keep their helicopters flying every day, everywhere.

The company employs 5,800 people around the world, including 4,800 in France. It is located at three sites in southwest France: Bordes (head office, design office, new engine production), Tarnos (worldwide engine support) and Mantes-Buchelay (control unit and accessory production).

Safran Helicopter Engines offers a comprehensive and efficient support network through 12 worldwide subsidiaries, providing local support and ready availability of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services.

Safran Helicopter Engines Tarnos

With a workforce of 1,550, Tarnos (Landes) is the second largest Safran Helicopter Engines site (after Bordes, Pyrénées-Atlantiques). Its activities are focused on after-sales support and the MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul) of in-service engines. It comprises three divisions:

  • Support and Services Division (D2S) with associated corporate functions
  • Support France, controlling after-sales support for engines in service in Europe, Africa and the Middle East
  • Centre d’Excellence Mondial de Réparation de Pièces et Composants (CERPC – Global Center of Excellence for the Repair of Parts and Components)

Tarnos is Safran Helicopter Engines’ global support management center, demonstrating its commitment to serving its helicopter operator customers, as well as the competence center for Support business lines. Each year, the site welcomes around 10,000 visitors, mainly international customers.

The Tarnos site also manufactures parts for new engines and is an industrial competence center for static assemblies (CCI ES) and some specific parts (CCI PS). It is the second largest new parts production center after Bordes.

Opened in February 2020 at Tarnos, CAP 2020 represents a major investment for Safran Helicopter Engines. This “factory of the future” incorporates the very latest industrial equipment, enabling customers to benefit from world-class services.

Three new structures were built, including two autonomous industrial workshops covering a total surface area of 33,000 sq. m.

  • An 8,500 sq. m industrial shop for the repair of parts and components from international sites supporting helicopter engines (CERPC activities).
  • A 14,500 sq. m industrial shop for the repair of engines from Europe/Africa/Middle East (Support France).
  • A 10,000 sq. m office building for the Support and Services Division center, housing 600 people.

Cleaner parts and greener techniques

Whenever a helicopter engine is sent for MRO (Maintenance, Repair or Overhaul), its components are subject to a deep-cleaning process to remove oil, carbon and coke deposits that reduce their effectiveness. Unfortunately, this process is lengthy and produces chemical waste; compounds that must be recycled and treated just like the water used during rinsing. The objective of this project is to develop and introduce two new techniques that clean more effectively and are more environmentally friendly – freezing (cryogenics) and laser stripping.

This stage the project is funded in part by the European Union’s environmental Life program; contributing up to €750,000 in recognition of its positive impact on the environment and reduced need for chemicals.