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Company typePrivate
IndustryAerospace & Defence
Founded1938; 86 years ago (1938)
FounderJoseph Szydlowski
HeadquartersBordes, France
Key people
Bruno Even, CEO
ProductsTurboshaft and jet engines
Number of employees
6,300 (2016)
ParentSafran S.A. Edit this at Wikidata

Safran Helicopter Engines, previously known as Turbomeca, is a French manufacturer of low- and medium-power gas turbine turboshaft engines for helicopters. The company also produces gas turbine engines for aircraft and missiles, as well as turbines for land, industrial and marine applications.

Since its founding as Turbomeca during 1938, Safran Helicopter Engines has produced over 72,000 turbines.[1] In its early years, it benefitted greatly from a rearmament programme conducted by the French state; operations were disrupted by the occupation of France during the Second World War, but the company survived and rebuilt quickly during the immediate postwar years. Prominent successes during the Cold War include the use of its Artouste II turboshaft engine to power the new Sud Aviation Alouette II helicopter (the first production turbine-powered helicopter in the world) as well as its involvement in Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Limited (a joint venture with British engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce Ltd that produced turbojet and turboshaft engines).

During September 2001, the French aerospace specialist SNECMA Group acquired the company, after which it was rebranded as Safran Helicopter Engines. The company states that it has more than 2,500 customers in 155 countries. Safran Helicopter Engines has 15 sites and operates on each continent, providing its customers with a proximity service through 44 distributors and certified maintenance centers, 18 Repair & Overhaul Centers, and 90 Field Representatives and Field Technicians. Safran Helicopter Engines subsidiary Safran Power Units is the leading European manufacturer of turbojet engines for missiles, drones and auxiliary power units.[1] Safran Helicopter Engines has 6,300 employees worldwide, with 5000 based in France. In 2015, the company reportedly produced and delivered 718 new engines, and repaired around 1,700 engines.[1]


On 29 August 1938, the company was founded as Turbomeca by the aero engine designers Joseph Szydlowski and André Planiol, following the granting of their patent application for a supercharger during the previous year.[1][2] Engine manufacturer Hispano-Suiza promptly ordered a demonstrator to equip its 12 Y engine, which was used on the MS 405 C1 fighter, amongst others. The company benefitted greatly from a decision by the French Government, recognising the looming threat of another World War with neighbouring Nazi Germany, having launched a rearmament programme during 1937.[3]

Over the course of three years, Turbomeca expanded rapidly from an artisanal production to an industrial one to meet the extensive demands of the French aircraft industry. The production figures of the company's first few years of operation indicate this rapid expansion: 18 compressors were produced in 1938, 300 in 1939 and 1,200 in 1940. Although the factory at Mézières-sur-Seine only attaining a fully operational status during June 1940, the French Government had advised the relocation to the south of France to avoid to the German advance. That same month, Turbomeca repositioned its operations to a newly requisitioned workshop in Saint-Pé-de-Bigorre near the Hispano-Suiza engine factory in Tarbes. However, these buildings were quickly found to be too small for its needs, thus, in 1941, a site was acquired in Bordes near Pau.[2] Turbomeca progressively transferred to this site between the autumn of 1941 and June 1942. During November 1942, Szydlowski fled to neutral Switzerland.[2] Between October 1942 and 1944, production stalled while its workforce dropped from about 300 to about 50 personnel.

Following the liberation of the region by Allied forces in August 1944, Szydlowski returned to Bordes to help revive Turbomeca; much of the firm's former staff were re-employed and much of its machinery was recovered as well, enabling a speedy revival during the postwar era.[2] During the late 1940s, Szydlowski opted to focus Turbomeca's design resources on low-power jet propulsion, intended for a new range of jet-powered aircraft, including turbine-powered helicopters. The production of turboshaft engines, which became widely used for rotorcraft, became a staple of the business over subsequent decades.[2]

From 1950, Turbomeca produced the tiny centrifugal flow Palas turbojet, producing 1.6 kN (353 lbf). In addition to the company's own production, the Palas was also produced under license by Blackburn and General Aircraft in the United Kingdom and Continental in the United States. Blackburn had a licence for producing other Turbomeca designs. During 1955, Turbomeca's Artouste II turboshaft engine was adopted for the new Sud Aviation Alouette II helicopter, which became the world's first production turbine-powered helicopter one year later.[4][1] Starting in 1957, the firm stated manufacture of the Bastan turboprop for the Aérospatiale N 262 airliner.

During 1968, a joint venture with British engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce Ltd, named Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Limited, was established to develop and produce the Adour turbojet engine to power the Anglo-French SEPECAT Jaguar. In addition to manufacturing the aero-engine, the company also provided associated support services to end users.[5] The Adour would not only be adopted for the Jaguar, but also various other aircraft, such as the BAE Systems Hawk, the McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk, and Mitsubishi T-2 trainer aircraft, as well as the Mitsubishi F-1 ground attack fighter.[6] In excess of 2,800 Adour engines would eventually be produced, reportedly amassing a cumulative total of 7,000,000 flying hours.[7]

Deciding to build on its success with another engine, Rolls-Royce Turbomeca handled development and production of the RTM322 turboshaft engine. During 1995, it was announced that the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 turboshaft engine had been selected to power the British Army's fleet of AgustaWestland Apache attack helicopters.[8] Over the following decades, the RTM322 engine was adopted by various operators to power a number of rotorcraft, including the NHIndustries NH90 and AgustaWestland AW101 medium-sized transport helicopters, along with the Eurocopter X³, a high speed technology demonstrator.[9][10] During 2003, it was announced that the joint venture was undertaking the development of an enhanced version of the RTM322, taking the powerplant from the current 2,400shp (1,800 kW) power range to beyond 2,500shp in the near term and potentially 3,300shp in the longer term after further improvements are finalised. Keith Reid, Rolls-Royce Turbomeca international marketing manager, noted that the RM322 had been originally designed with future growth in mind, and that operators had been placing an increasing emphasis upon hot and high flight capabilities, which necessitated more engine power is being available.[11][12]

During June 1989, another joint venture, MTU Turbomeca Rolls-Royce (MTR) was established as a part of the framework created on behalf of the French and West German governments to developed an advanced multirole battlefield helicopter, the Eurocopter Tiger. Being responsible for developing and producing the Tiger's MTR390 powerplant, MTR was designated as the programme management company responsible for the engine, and was jointly staffed by the partner companies, Turbomeca, Germany's MTU Aero Engines and Britain's Rolls-Royce.[13][14] During early 2000, an initial production contract was signed by the German Federal Office of Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) and MTR; valued at DM430 million and comprising 320 engines plus spares, the contract represented the MTU390's clearance for production.[15] Later-built models of the Tiger are furnished with more powerful models of the MTU390 engine than had been installed upon the initial examples.[16][17]

During 2013, an agreement between Rolls-Royce and Turbomeca to buy out the former's involvement in Rolls-Royce Turbomeca in exchange for around €293 million ($381 million), after which responsibility for undertaking all activities related to the RTM322 engine, including manufacturing and maintenance/services, was transferred to Turbomeca.[18][19] Accordingly, Rolls-Royce Turbomeca is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Safran Helicopter Engines.

By 2010, Safran Helicopter Engines turbines powered civil, parapublic and defence helicopters for all the leading helicopter manufacturers (mainly Eurocopter, but also AgustaWestland, Sikorsky, Kamov, HAL, NHI).

Engine models

Safran is the world's leading manufacturer of gas turbine engines for both civil and military helicopters. They design, produce, sell and support a complete range of turbine engines for this market. More than 18,000 Safran Helicopter engines already power helicopters built by the world's leading manufacturers: Airbus Helicopters, AVIC, Sikorsky, Bell Helicopter, Finmeccanica Helicopters (formerly AgustaWestland), Denel, Russian Helicopters, HAL, Boeing, etc. In the military sector, Safran powers the Tiger, NH90, Finmeccanica Helicopters A109 Power, AW101 and many others. Helicopters powered by Safran are deployed by 2,500 customers in 150 countries.[1]


Most Turbomeca engines bear the names of Pyrenean mountains.

Safran offers several main engine families: Arrius and Arriel (up to 1,000 shaft horsepower), for light and medium helicopters; TM333, Arrano and Ardiden (rated at 1,000 to 2,000 SHP), for civil and military machines in the 5 to 8 ton class; Makila and RTM322 (over 2,000 SHP), for heavy rotorcraft.[1]

Model Intro. Until Min hp Max hp Applications
Artouste 1956 1975 400 550 Alouette II, Alouette III
Astazou 1957 ? 523 644 Alouette II, Alouette III, Gazelle, Jetstream
Bastan 1960 1976 650 1,048 Nord 260, N 262
Turmo 1962 1987 1,200 1,800 Puma, Super Frelon
Arriel 1974 current 590 1,000 A109, BK 117, EC145, Dauphin and Ecureuil, S-76, Harbin Z-9/Z-19
Makila 1978 current 1,800 2,100 Super Puma, AS532, EC725, Rooivalk
Arrius 1981 current 450 750 AS355, AS555, EC135, EC635, EC120B, A109, Ka-226T, Bell 505
TM 333 1981 ? 750 1,100 HAL Dhruv, Cheetah, Chetak
RTM322[a] 1987 current 2,100 2,600 Apache, AW101 NH90
MTR390[b] 1991 current 1,250 1,450 Tiger
Ardiden 2007 current 1,400 2,000 AC352, HAL Dhruv/HAL Prachand, HAL LUH, Ka-62
Aneto 2018 current 2,500 3,000 AW189K, AW149
Arrano 2019 current 1,100 1,300 H160
  1. ^ joint project with Rolls-Royce
  2. ^ joint project with MTU and Rolls-Royce



Engines of Microturbo subsidiary


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Company". Safran Helicopter Engines. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Safran Helicopter Engines celebrates its 80th anniversary". Safran Helicopter Engines. 20 September 2018.
  3. ^ "History: 1916–1945". Dassault Aviation. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  4. ^ "1955: SE3130 "Alouette II"." Archived 22 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine Eurocopter, Retrieved: 20 December 2015.
  5. ^ "Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Ltd". Bloomberg. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Engine - Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca R.T.172 Adour 102". Royal Air Force Museum. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour". Brooklands Museum. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
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  9. ^ "Rolls-Royce engine approved". Flight International. 3 August 2004.
  10. ^ Croft, John (23 February 2009). "HELI-EXPO 2009: Rolls-Royce confirms role in Eurocopter X3 programme". Flight International.
  11. ^ "R-R Turbomeca firms up growth version of RTM322". Flight International. 8 December 2003.
  12. ^ "Rolls-Royce plans growth for RTM322". Flight International. 28 May 2002.
  13. ^ Krotz, Ulrich (2011). Flying Tiger: International Relations Theory and the Politics of Advanced Weapons. Oxford University Press. pp. 130–131. ISBN 978-0-1997-5993-4.
  14. ^ "MTU Turbomeca Rolls-Royce GmbH". Aviation Week. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Production contract signed for Tiger's MTR390 engine". Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology. 72 (2). 1 April 2000. doi:10.1108/aeat.2000.12772bab.051. ISSN 0002-2667.
  16. ^ "France & Spain Order New Eurocopter Tiger HAD Variant (updated)". Archived from the original on 4 February 2007. Retrieved 5 March 2007.
  17. ^ Airbus Tiger Brochure Presentation
  18. ^ "Rolls-Royce and Safran agree transfer of RTM322 helicopter engine programme to Turbomeca". 2003.
  19. ^ Perry, Dominic (23 April 2013). "R-R sells interest in RTM322 helicopter engine programme". Flight International.