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Aviation News A highly charged Paris Air Show for Saft aviation battery solutions

A highly charged Paris Air Show for Saft aviation battery solutions

Romain Guillot
05 JUL 2017 | 769 words
A highly charged Paris Air Show for Saft aviation battery solutions
© Saft
Saft, the world leader in aviation batteries, has had a very busy time of late, as we were able to find out during this year's Paris Air Show. The French specialist has attended each edition of the world's largest aerospace industry event for the past fifty years, with the first battery for the aviation sector dating back probably to 1932 with the Latécoère 300. Of course, Saft was present on the Concorde in 1969, on the 747, on the A320 from the beginning, and many more. Saft batteries were used on the A320 which famously ditched in the Hudson River when the aircraft lost its power generator for much of its very short descent.

As Jean-Marc Thevenoud, marketing manager for aviation at Saft explained to us, no less than two thirds of the world's global fleet currently flies with batteries produced by the French company. This means that Saft is present on all Airbus planes, practically all Boeing programmes (except for the 777 and 787 families), Embraer, ATR, Bombardier, Sukhoi, Irkut's MC-21 and numerous helicopter and business jet programmes, but also on military aircraft (Rafale, F-22, F-35, T-50, etc.) and drones.

The French company, which came under the Total group's banner last year, proposes over 400 different battery designs. Its new lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology batteries were in attendance at Le Bourget this year, with in-flight demonstrations of the Lockheed Martin F-35 and the Airbus A350-1000. The JSF and A350 XWB programmes are currently the only two aircraft equipped by Saft with this type of battery, but as Jean-Marc Thevenoud reminded us, this technology enables significant savings in weight, around 80 kg on the A350 for example. Maintenance operations are also further apart, with verification only every two years, instead of every six months, which obviously represents a major advantage for operators.

But Saft's traditional nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) based batteries are continue to develop with the new ULM (Ultra Low Maintenance) generation which enables the time between maintenance inspections to be increased by a factor of two, three or even four. The recent contract signed with ATR a few days before this 52nd edition of Le Bourget Air Show testifies to this. Saft will now be equipping the ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600 with the new generation of ULM batteries, both in first installation and in retrofit. The new C919 from the Chinese aircraft manufacturer COMAC also has this type of battery since its maiden flight at Shanghai Pudong at the start of May; Saft was awarded the supply of batteries for all of the new Chinese commercial aircraft by UAE (Xi'an AVIC Hamilton Sundstrand Aviation Electric Co., Ltd.) for a 20-year period. The world leader in aviation batteries also took advantage of the Paris Air Show to announce that Aero Vodochody had also chosen its ULM batteries to equip its new L-39NG training jet. Saft had already been supplying the Czech aircraft manufacturer for several years for its L-159 and L-39 programmes.

Jean-Marc Thevenoud explained to us that Saft had created special relationships with its customers, with the objective of working together from the battery design phase to its support. While safety for this type of critical equipment obviously remains the main priority, reliability and durability imperatives are also very important. He also reminded us that Saft's main strengths lie in commanding the whole value chain, from chemistry to the related electronics, while also having extensive experience in the aviation sector and its regulatory constraints. The world leader in aviation batteries also spends a lot of time with aircraft manufacturers to test their products, with significant test capabilities at the Bordeaux and Valdosta (Georgia, USA) production sites.

Saft also uses three major distributors to replace the products in its range, Aviall (Boeing), Satair (Airbus) and the German independent specialist D+C Airparts. This provides Saft with major international potential to supply operators with large stock levels and highly developed AOG services. Jean-Marc Thevenoud also told us that Saft has a network of around thirty "battery shops" which are approved to repair its equipment around the world.

But Saft also possesses recognised know-how in the space sector with, for example, the recent launch of its 200th satellite equipped with its lithium-ion batteries, which is one of the satellites in the new Iridium NEXT constellation. The French company is far and away the company which has the largest number of batteries in space, taking all technologies together. And the space adventure won't stop there. At Le Bourget, Saft presented the battery with which the ESA's Exomars mission Rover will be equipped, with launch scheduled for 2020.
Romain Guillot
Chief editor
Cofounder of Journal de l'Aviation and Alertavia


 
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