A year ago, EBACE was full of talk about which engine manufacturers would compete for the upcoming requirement for a 10,000-pound-thrust class engine to power the new generation of super-midsize business jets. At that time, no fewer than five companies appeared to be serious about competing in the sector.
A lot has happened since then. In June 2007, everyone was surprised when Dassault opted for the RB282-3 for its new–unnamed and not yet launched–super-midsize jet. The decision made propulsion history as it was the first time the French airframer had chosen UK-based Rolls-Royce to supply the power for one of its business jets.
Then, in March, Cessna selected Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) to power its Citation Columbus with the 9,000-pound-thrust PW810, the first engine in the PW10X family of powerplants. The engine will deliver 8,830 pounds of takeoff thrust and exceed ICAO emissions standards by up to 50 percent for nitrous oxide and 35 percent for carbon monoxide, thanks to the Pratt & Whitney-developed Talon combustion system. First flight of the PW810 on a P&WC flying testbed is expected next year, in plenty of time for the first flight of the Columbus in 2011.
Of the remaining three engine makers, Honeywell and Snecma have yet to find launch customers for their respective engines and GE appears to have dropped out of the race altogether.
Snecma and Honeywell
Despite losing to Dassault, Snecma remains “very confident and optimistic” that it will find a launch customer for the Silvercrest. “We learned a lot from the Dassault competition, which was a new market for us,” the French group’s director of civil engines, François Planaud, told EBACE Convention News. He denied that the Cessna award was a loss for Snecma, saying, “Technically, our engine was not optimal because our thrust level was too high.”
Joe Hepburn, Cessna’s senior program manager for the Citation Columbus, confirmed that the Silvercrest had been considered as a powerplant option for the airframer’s new large-cabin jet. “We had several solutions that were technically feasible [to choose from],” he said. “Largely the choice came down to our relationship with Pratt & Whitney Canada. We were confident that they would do it. We had to be sure that the dates would all align for the program.”
Hepburn conceded that the high cost of products made in countries using the euro (for example, France) had been considered by the U.S. airframer. However, he added that the engine selection effectively was made in early 2007 when the disparity in the values of the euro and the dollar was not as extreme as it is today.
According to Planaud, testing of the all-new Silvercrest core has been completed on time and results have been “at or above expectations.” This has given the engine maker new confidence in the program, he added. “We are pursuing opportunities with airframers more than ever and are proposing very aggressive performance targets with this all-new family of engines.”
Honeywell comes to the 10,000-pound-thrust market flush with the success of its smaller HTF7000 powerplant, which in April won the competition to power Embraer’s new MSJ and MLJ business jets. In-service reliability of the 7,000-pound-thrust HTF7000 has been “exceptional,” according to Ron Rich, the U.S. group’s director of advanced technology (propulsion), with a 99.95-percent dispatch reliability in four years of service. “The HTF10000 is part of the same family and will benefit from advances we have made in our Tech 7000 component development program,” he added.
“We are working with airframers every day and have ongoing talks with them for applications in this thrust class,” he said, commenting on possible future applications for the family. “This is a large growth area and we are there with the HTF10000.” The engine will be launched only when there is a customer. “We’ve seen in the marketplace that the thrust requirement is dependent on the airframer. We’re talking to them all.”
Dassault’s selection of the Rolls-Royce RB282 marked the launch of a new range of two-shaft engines spanning the 6,000- to 30,000-pound-thrust range, aimed at “business jets and single-aisle commercial aircraft.”
For “confidentiality and competitive reasons,” Rolls-Royce is not revealing details of its all-new RB282. However, it appears certain that the new engine will feature technology from the Vision 10 advanced development program, which will include a forward-swept fan and an all-new core. It is being designed in the company’s engineering centers in Dahlewitz, Germany, and Indianapolis, Indiana, and will be assembled in the U.S. in a new facility under construction in Virginia, due to open at the end of 2009.
Pratt & Whitney Canada recently revealed that its PW810 would be based on the same core as that developed for the engine upon which the company is pinning its hopes for the single-aisle replacement market–the geared turbofan (GTF). Already chosen for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet and Bombardier C Series, the GTF will feature an all-new core that will be scaled for the smaller PW810.
Because it is an axial design, the high-pressure compressor, combustor and high-pressure turbine will be developed by the Hartford, Connecticut arm of Pratt & Whitney, which has more experience with axial designs. Initial tests of the HP compressor at P&W’s German partner MTU took place late last year, while testing of the HP turbine continues at P&WC’s Montreal facility.
Predictions for the value of the super-midsize business jet propulsion and associated services market vary, but one of the most specific comes from Rolls-Royce, which estimates it to be worth at least $40 billion over the next 20 years. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the engine manufacturers are pull-ing out all the stops to grab a share of it.
Whether all four contenders will survive and prosper remains to be seen, however. The business jet propulsion market is notoriously fickle: Dassault, for example, having chosen Honeywell for the Falcon 50EX and Falcon 900EX, moved to P&WC for the Falcon 7X, and then to Rolls-Royce for its Falcon 50 replacement; Gulfstream, traditionally powering its business jets with Rolls-Royce engines, chose P&WC for the G200 and Honeywell for the G150. But it has again chosen Rolls-Royce for the new G650.
In terms of design, all of the contenders will be expected to meet the latest “green” performance standards on emissions, noise and fuel burn. Snecma’s Planaud reported that Silvercrest testing has confirmed that “all targets will be met.” These include a minimum 15-percent improvement in fuel burn compared to “current business jet engines in this thrust class,” a 50-percent reduction on the CAEP 6 level for nitrogen oxides and a 20- to 25-dB cut in noise compared to the current ICAO Stage 3 standards.
Similar figures are being set for the performance targets applied to the Honeywell engine. According to Rich, the HTF10000 will have a new advanced “quiet, high-speed fan,” with forward-swept blades which has been undergoing subscale and full-scale tests in the Tech7000 program. Acoustics measurements have “more than met our expectations,” he said.
Unlike Rolls-Royce and P&WC, Snecma and Honeywell both opted for axial/centrifugal high-pressure compressors, with Snecma bringing in its Safran group colleague Turbomeca to design the single-stage centrifugal element, an area in which it has accumulated considerable experience with its long established range of turboshaft engines. According to Planaud, tests have demonstrated the efficiency of the design.
“Globally this is a very sound engine,” he added. “Our achievement is that during this campaign, in all parameters, we have seen the results we wanted to see,
not only in every component but also in terms of the integration and overall mechanical and dynamic performance.”
As with the other engines, the Silvercrest will be launched only when there is an application. Planaud said tests have “proved we have the right approach and that we have demonstrated to potential customers our capabilities in this sector.”
At this year’s EBACE the super-midsize scene is likely to be further clarified as the aircraft manufacturers talk about how they plan to replace their current offerings. The contenders to power those aircraft will be watching developments closely, Snecma and Honeywell looking for launch opportunities, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney Canada hoping to capitalize on their good start.