Safran Helicopter Engines

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. SNECMA Group acquired the company in September 2001. Safran Helicopter Engines has 6,300 employees worldwide, with 5000 based in France. In 2015, they produced and delivered 718 new engines, and repaired around 1700 engines.[1]

IndustryAerospace & Defence
Founded1938 (1938)
FounderJoseph Szydlowski 
HeadquartersBordes, France
Key people
Bruno Even, CEO
ProductsTurboshaft and jet engines
Number of employees
6,300 (2016)
ParentSafran S.A.

Since its foundation in 1938, Safran Helicopter Engines has produced over 72,000 turbines. The company 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 was founded on August 29, 1938 by Joseph Szydlowski and André Planiol following the granting of their patent application for a supercharger in 1937. Hispano-Suiza ordered a demonstrator to equip its 12 Y engine, used among others on the MS 405 C1.

Safran Helicopter Engines changed rapidly from an artisanal production to an industrial one benefiting from the politics of re-armament. This is shown by the production figures of the following three years: 18 compressor in 1938, 300 in 1939 and 1200 in 1940. Although the factory at Mézières-sur-Seine was only really operational in June 1940, the government advised the move to the south of France due to the German advance. That month Turbomeca relocated to a newly requisitioned workshop in Saint-Pé-de-Bigorre near the Hispano-Suiza engine factory in Tarbes. The buildings were found to be too small and in 1941 a site was bought in Bordes near Pau. Turbomeca progressively moved into this site between the autumn of 1941 and June 1942. In November 1942, Szydlowski fled to Switzerland. Between October 1942 and 1944, the production stalled and the workforce dropped from about 300 to about 50.

From 1950, Safran Helicopter Engines produced the tiny centrifugal flow Palas turbojet, producing 1.6 kN (353 lbf). The Palas was also produced by Blackburn and General Aircraft in the UK and Continental in the USA. From 1957, it manufactured the Bastan turboprop for the Aérospatiale N 262 airliner. Blackburn had a licence for producing other Turbomeca designs.

Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Limited was established in 1968 to develop the Adour jet engine for the Anglo-French SEPECAT Jaguar. The company went on to develop the RTM322 turboshaft, which powers Westland WAH-64, and some models of the AgustaWestland EH101 and NHI NH90.

In 2001 Safran Helicopter Engines and Rolls-Royce won a $1 billion USD contract to equip 399 German, French and Dutch NH90 helicopters with their RTM322 engines.

As of 2012, Safran Helicopter Engines turbines power 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]

ModelIntro.UntilMin hpMax hpApplications
Artouste19561975400550Alouette II, Alouette III
Astazou1957523644Alouette II, Alouette III, Gazelle, Jetstream
Bastan196019766501,048Nord 260, N 262
Turmo196219871,2001,800Puma, Super Frelon
Arriel1974current5901,000A109, BK 117, EC145, Dauphin and Ecureuil, S-76, Harbin Z-9/Z-19
Makila1978current1,8002,100Super Puma, AS532, EC725, Rooivalk
Arrius1981current450750AS355, AS555, EC135, EC635, EC120B, A109, Ka-226T, Bell 505
TM 33319817501,100HAL Dhruv, Cheetah, Chetak
RTM322[lower-alpha 1]1987current2,1002,600Apache, AW101 NH90
MTR390[lower-alpha 2]1991current1,2501,450Tiger
Ardiden2007current1,4002,000AC352, HAL Dhruv/LCH, HAL LUH, Ka-62
  1. joint project with Rolls-Royce
  2. joint project with MTU and Rolls-Royce



Engines of Microturbo subsidiary



  1. "Safran Helicopter Engines". 8 January 2015.


  • Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9
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