A new face at the head of ArianeGroup
A new face at the head of ArianeGroup
© Safran Electronics & Defense / Twitter

A new face at the head of ArianeGroup

Martin Sion, formerly president of Safran Electronics & Defense, has been executive chairman of the Airbus and Safran joint venture since April 4, in charge of the Ariane launcher and M51 missile.

A strong background

Martin Sion, who had been chairman since June 2015 of Safran Electronics & Defense and had been on the board of ArianeGroup since April 2020, has been the new executive chairman of the joint venture created in 2016 at the initiative of the Airbus and Safran groups since April 4, in particular in order to reorganize Europe's launch vehicle industry.

Martin Sion is preceded by a solid reputation. The 54-year-old, a graduate of the Ecole Centrale de Paris, began his career in 1990 as a design engineer at SEP (Société Européenne de Propulsion, now part of ArianeGroup). He then held various positions before joining Snecma (now Safran Aircraft Engines) in 2006, as head of progress initiatives. In 2009, he took charge of the "Packaging and Equipment" Center of Excellence within Snecma's industrial division, before being named director of the Space Engines Division. In 2013, he became chairman and CEO of Aircelle (now Safran Nacelles), a position he held until June 2015.

Since June 2015, Martin Sion has been president of Safran Electronics & Defense, a Safran subsidiary specializing in optronic, inertial, electronic and electromechanical technologies for the civil aviation and space and defense industry markets. He is also president of the GEAD (Groupement des Equipements Aéronautiques et de Défense) within the Gifas.

As head of Safran Electronics & Defense, Martin Sion is replaced by Franck Saudo.


André-Hubert Roussel hailed

Martin Sion takes over from André-Hubert Roussel, who took over as head of ArianeGroup in January 2019, with the mission of ensuring the end of Ariane 6 development (started under the presidency of Alain Charmeau, his predecessor hit by retirement age) and the transition with Ariane 5.

The former director of operations at Airbus Defence and Space is thus bearing the brunt of the accumulated delays of the future European heavy launcher, but his departure is accompanied by many grateful messages.

Starting with this one from Philippe Baptiste, the president of Cnes, on his LinkedIn  account: " André-Hubert Roussel is leaving the head of ArianeGroup, and I would like to thank him for his work at the service of the Ariane family. Covid, inflation, complex institutional and industrial set-up, tensions within the European family, rigidity of geographic return, very ambitious development schedules, all good (and bad) reasons for the delays of Ariane 6. These difficulties show that future launchers must be developed in a radically different framework than the one we know today. Yes, Europe's launcher industry is going through a difficult crisis, but we will overcome it. Ariane 6 is coming, it is on its launch pad in Kourou, the technical problems have been solved one after the other, and the order book for the launcher is full. So thanks to André-Hubert Roussel and the teams at ArianeGroup and Arianespace, who have worked tirelessly with ESA, Cnes and all the subcontractors to move the program forward. Thanks again to André-Hubert for the human qualities he demonstrated in a difficult environment. We have before us a first launch to succeed and an ambitious industrial rampup to organize. Martin Sion, a well-known industrialist in the sector, can count on Cnes' full commitment to Ariane. We will also be there to build the launchers of the future with the industrialists who wish to do so and the new entrepreneurs.


Three priorities

Invited the day after he took office to the Perspectives spatiales 2023 conference, organized at the Maison de la Chimie in Paris by the firm Euroconsult and Gifas, Martin Sion anticipated the question that was bound to be asked of him, and presented his ambitions : " My three priorities are the first flight of Ariane 6, the ramp-up and the balanced operating model, which allow Ariane 6 to be a true total success, and which allow Europe to have full sovereignty in its access to space. I think it is possible, I think it will be done, with all our industrial partners, the ESA and Cnes. In any case, we are all mobilized for this. "

When we briefly greeted Martin Sion to congratulate him on his appointment and wish him good luck, he immediately replied, with a broad smile  " Good luck ? But it is an extraordinary opportunity to join ArianeGroup ! ".

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