Safran S.A. is a French multinational aircraft & rocket engine, aerospace component and security company. It was formed by a merger between the aircraft & rocket engine manufacturer and aerospace component manufacturer group SNECMA and the security company SAGEM in 2005. Its headquarters are located in Paris.
The name Safran, literally meaning "rudder blade", was chosen from 4,250 suggestions. As a holding company for many subsidiaries the name was deemed suitable for the suggestion of direction, movement and strategy. Safran also translates as saffron, which the company highlights as one of the catalysts for early international trade.
In 1905 Louis Seguin created the company Gnome. Production of the first rotary engine for airplanes, the Gnome Omega, started in 1909. This company merged with the Le Rhône, a company created in 1912 by Louis Verdet, to form the Gnome et Rhône engine company. Gnome & Rhône was nationalized in 1945, creating Snecma. In 2000, this company gave its name to the “Snecma Group”, and carried out a number of acquisitions to form a larger group with an array of complementary businesses.
Sagem (Société d’Applications Générales de l’Electricité et de la Mécanique) was created in 1924 by Marcel Môme. In 1939, Sagem entered the telephone and transmissions market by taking control of Société d’Applications Téléphoniques (SAT). It acquired Société de Fabrication d’Instruments de Mesure (Sfim), a measurement instrument specialist, in 1999. However, by 2008 Sagem Mobile and Sagem Communications had been sold. Sagem Mobile became Sagem Wireless in January 2009.
The Aerospace Propulsion branch groups all operations concerning the propulsion of aeroplanes, helicopters, missiles and launchers, for the civil aviation, military aviation and space markets: design, production, marketing, testing, maintenance, repair & overhaul (MRO).
The Defense Security branch operates in the civil, military and space markets, and covers the following areas: inertial guidance and navigation equipment (SIGMA INS based on Ring Laser Gyro (RLG) sensors), optronic systems and equipment, avionics systems, UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) systems, air-land systems and equipment, biometric identification systems, secure transaction terminals and smart cards. On July 1, 2009, the European Union approved Safran's acquisition of 81 percent of the GE Security division which produces airport security systems and biometric identification systems.