Shaping the future
Innovation has always been at the heart of Safran Electronics & Defense's strategy: its products' competitiveness rests in large part on the successful integration of technological breakthroughs, providing clients with a decisive advantage.
Developing technical expertise is also a strategic part of preparing for tomorrow's technological challenges. With this in mind, Safran Electronics & Defense put in place a 'forum' for its experts subsidiary, which includes 150 employees, of which 50 senior or outstanding experts are part of Safran's network of experts.
The competitiveness of the company's systems and equipment depends on the incorporation of breakthrough or even disruptive technologies that give customers a decisive advantage, based on proprietary innovations in optronics, navigation and critical software.
The primary areas of focus are multispectral optronics, image processing, new-generation tactical drones, vibrating gyros and MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems), applied to next-generation navigation systems for both military and civil applications. For example, this user-oriented strategy led to the development of the active side-stick unit a new-generation "joystick" for airplane and helicopter pilots.
Globalized markets and intensified competition have made Intellectual Property more and more important. It meets an operational need by reinforcing and securing Safran Electronics & Defense's commercial positions. With 80 patents filed in 2016 and more than 2 100 patents across the globe, Safran Electronics & Defense is a key contributor to positioning the Safran group among the leaders in French patent holders.
The performance of the products and systems that Safran Electronics & Defense offers its clients hinges on its expertise in highly diversified technologies and the capacity to combine them and integrate them optimally. Safran Electronics & Defense devotes a large part of its resources to this: close to 2 000 engineers and technicians work in RDTI (Research, Technology, Development and Industrialization) analyzing its products and preparing for the future.
Safran Electronics & Defense's R&T plans and programs are built around different fields that correspond to its main businesses and markets:
The markets for air, land, naval, satellite and weapons navigation are currently undergoing change. Several factors behind the renewed demand are the integration of mobiles in cooperative units, the growing needs for autonomy and the necessary continuum between ground and onboard via secure links. The key relevant technologies include hybridization techniques, and the acquisition and data processing chains.
Safran Electronics & Defense makes flight controls used to operate aircraft and is a leader in them for helicopters. The increasing use of electrical energy – initiated on the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 programs – continues and will be a distinctive feature of the future generation of short and medium haul airplanes. Mastering electrical actuator technologies and the related system architecture constitutes in this context one of the priorities of the R&T programs.
Optronics and Defense
R&T in this field is influenced by the growing demand on the part of armed and security forces for asymmetric combat capabilities and a tendency towards total battlefield digitization. This requires reinforcing expertise in LLL (Low Light Levels) and infrared (in particular uncooled) detector technologies, multispectral cameras and image processing and analysis, whether it's inhouse or with partners.
Onboard electronics, system engineering and software
To meet the needs of future 'more electric' aircraft and confront the growing complexity of onboard systems, R&T in this field mainly addresses the methods and tools of system engineering and software, computer architecture, communication buses and electronics operation under extreme conditions (temperature, vibrations, EMC, etc.).
Innovation at Safran
a state of mind anchored in technological excellence
Innovation plays a pivotal role at Safran. Essential to our competitiveness, it enables us to offer top-flight products in each of our business sectors – aerospace, defense, security – while also reducing development time and cost. Innovation also means developing safer, more environmentally-friendly air transport, and making our daily lives safer and easier. To support our strategy, we invest considerable human and financial resources in research & development, as well as building state-of-the-art research centers. Innovation is also a state of mind, expressed through the sharing of expertise, based on a large number of partnerships and a dynamic, successful employee-driven innovation initiative.