Safran and United Engine considering further collaboration

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Safran and Russia's United Engine have agreed to look into broadening the workscope of their joint venture VolgAero beyond its original mandate of producing parts for the Sukhoi Superjet's powerplant.

"Given its success, we want it to have a freer hand in developing as a standalone enterprise," says Vladislav Masalov, general director of Russia's United Engine. "Our French partners [at Safran] have requested us to provide detailed proposals for reconfiguring its setup. In our opinion, this could substantially improve VolgAero's efficiency."

Marc Sorel, head of Safran operations in Russia, says the other proposal is to establish a joint technical centre which would provide support not only for the SaM146 engine, which powers Sukhoi's regional jet, but also for CFM56 engines, manufactured by General Electric-Snecma joint venture CFM International.

"This is a rather large-scale project. We plan to discuss it with the Russian government," says Sorel. "Together with Saturn, we're also working on launching the manufacture of parts for the CFM56 at VolgAero."

After having fine-tuned production process, both PowerJet and VolgAero are now on track with commitments to equip newly built Superjets.

"We've reached capability to supply 60 SaM146 engines a year," says Ilya Fyodorov, Saturn's managing director. "Monthly output is in sync with the aircraft assembly rate [at Sukhoi's plant] KnAAPO.

"It will be ramped up from four engines a month to six in September, and to eight by the end of 2013. We'll be able to ship 90 engines in 2014. The longer-term goal is to build between 130 and 150 a year."