Silvercrest still on target for 2011

 - May 17, 2008, 5:31 AM

Though still without a launch program for its new 9,500- to 12,000-pound thrust engine, Snecma reports good progress in developing its new Silvercrest powerplant family for large business jets and small regional airliners. By the end of March, the company’s engineering team had completed tests on the engine core demonstrator with some 80 hours in test rigs at its Villaroche facility near Paris. Snecma intended this phase of the $100 million development, which began in December, to validate the engine’s design and core performance.

Ignition and initial core runs have reached up to 19,800 rpm, representing 85 percent of takeoff thrust. Snecma engineers have also reported positive results from work on rotor blade characteristics, the high-pressure compressor and turbine, as well as tip clearances, compressor pressure ratios and stall margins.

Snecma, a subsidiary of Safran, has said it could complete certification of the first versions of the Silvercrest family by 2011. It anticipates that the first business aircraft applications could enter service around 2013 and for the regional airline market around 2015 to 2016. The manufacturer expects the engines to deliver 10 to 15 percent lower fuel burn than comparable existing engines in the same class.
According to executive vice president commercial engines François Planaud, Snecma is the first engine manufacturer to run a core engine demonstrator to validate a brand-new engine concept in the 9,500- to 12,000-pound thrust market segment.
Claiming “outstanding results” from the early phases of the engineering tests, he told EBACE Convention News that negotiations are under way with
both prospective risk-sharing partners and clients. Snecma introduced the Silvercrest at the National Business Aviation Association convention in November 2006.

According to Snecma, the Silvercrest will also deliver at least a 25-percent improvement in climb and high-altitude cruise performance than current engines in its class. A significant reduction in the parts count has also been another significant design goal for the Silvercrest team.

The new engine’s typical target application is a long-range, super-midsize to large-cabin aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight between 45,000 and 60,000 pounds. However, Snecma has already missed out on opportunities to provide powerplants for both Dassault’s new super-midsize business jet and the just-launched Cessna Citation Columbus large-cabin aircraft.

Italy’s Avio and another Safran subsidiary, Turbomeca, are partners in the core demonstrator program for the Silvercrest. But Snecma has said it is still too early to select design and manufacturing partners for the program, in which it intends to retain at least a 51-percent majority stake.