Dassault rethinks super-midsize jet

 - July 27, 2009, 10:28 AM

Dassault Aviation CEO Charles Edelstenne in June made it clear that all design choices for the manufacturer’s next Falcon business jet, a super-midsize aircraft codenamed SMS, have been reopened–including the engine. This gives engine makers–notably Snecma, which has been trying to find an application for its first business jet turbofan–a new opportunity to compete for the project.

Dassault in 2007 selected Rolls-Royce to supply 10,000-pound-thrust-class RB282s for the SMS. It now appears that even such a key decision is being questioned.
During a press conference at the company’s headquarters in Saint-Cloud, near Paris, Edelstenne said, “We saw we had not met our [economic and technical] goals. Therefore, I elected to prolong Phase A [of our design process] to the end of the year. Everything is open, including the choice of the engine.”

A Rolls-Royce spokesman later said his company has a strong business partnership with Dassault. “We continue to work with them on future program requirements,” he said. He added the RB282 concept is “sound.” The RB282 is a completely new design with no commonality with the firm’s existing business jet engines.

Safran executive v-p Marc Ventre, president of the group’s aerospace propulsion branch, told AIN the Snecma Silvercrest engine was on track after last year’s successful core demonstrations. He said that Snecma is again ready to propose its 9,500- 12,000-pound-thrust Silvercrest for the SMS, which he understood would be different from the airplane Dassault originally envisioned.

However, he added that he did not expect that changes to the Silvercrest powerplant would be considerable. Snecma anticipates that it would need three years to certify its Silvercrest once an airframer chooses the engine and it launches the program. AIN now understands the SMS will not make its first flight before 2014.

According to Silvercrest program manager Laurence Finet, the engine is on target for combustion, high-pressure turbine performance, operability and dynamic behavior (including vibrations). Success in operability testing means that series of rapid accelerations and decelerations were conducted without any disturbing phenomenon such as surge.

Snecma claims fuel burn of the Silvercrest will be 15 percent lower than that of current engines. NOx emissions are expected to be 50 percent better than CAEP 6 standards. Noise is expected 20 dB below Stage 4.