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Nonwovens / Technical Textiles

Albany International, Safran Inaugurate Plant For 3-D Woven RTM Composite Aircraft Engine Parts

Advanced textiles and materials processer Albany International Corp., Rochester, N.H., and France-based technology developer Safran recently inaugurated a state-of-the-art 300,000-square-foot plant in Rochester for the production of 3-D woven resin transfer molding (RTM) composite parts for aircraft engines.

The companies began a partnership in 2000 to produce 3-D woven carbon fiber components, and in 2013, they opened the Rochester plant, which currently employs 130 people and is expected to employ between 400 and 500 people once production is at full capacity.

The first parts produced at the plant will be used in fan cases and fan blades for the LEAP engine produced by CFM International, a France-based joint venture between GE and Safran division Snecma. The strong, lightweight parts help reduce fuel consumption by 15 percent, the companies report. The LEAP engine will be used in narrow-body commercial aircraft including the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo.

“I am very pleased to inaugurate this plant today along with our Albany International partner,” said Jean-Paul Herteman, chairman and CEO, Safran, at the inaugural ceremony. “For more than 40 years, through CFM International, our exceptional long-term partnership with GE, and both organic growth and acquisitions, Safran has become a formidable presence in the U.S. Our aim is to continue to expand our position and to contribute to the development of the aerospace and security markets as an American company, to ensure optimum service for our civil and military customers here.”

Albay and Safran are building a similar plant in Commercy, France, that will produce similar parts for the LEAP engine. That plant is expected to begin operations mid-2014.

May/June 2014