Snecma moves on after loss of super-midsize competition
Jean-Pierre Cojean, Snecma executive vice president of commercial engines and head of the Silvercrest engine program, said the engine-maker was disappointed, but not devastated, at not having clinched the contract to supply the engine for Dassault’s new Falcon super-midsize business jet to be launched in the next few months.
“It was our first competition for a business jet engine, while others have been making them for over 30 years,” Cojean said. “We are encouraged, as we understand our engine nevertheless received a high rating,” he said. Rolls-Royce was chosen to power the new Falcon.
After making its world debut at the NBAA Convention last October, Snecma has confirmed that the first components of the 10,000-pound-thrust Silvercrest core engine technology demonstrator have been delivered, paving the way for the launch of the first of the Safran subsidiary’s new family of engines for midsize to large business jets and regional airliners with 40 to 60 seats.
Ground testing of the core is scheduled to start this month, with full development expected to begin around the middle of next year. The turbofan engine is expected to enter the market at the end of 2010 or beginning of 2011.
The Silvercrest development is part of the Safran subsidiary’s strategy to enter the market for commercial engines to power aircraft with fewer than 100 seats and follows the recent launch of its SaM 146 engine for Sukhoi’s future Russian Regional Jet. Silvercrest will deliver 9,500 to 12,000 pounds of thrust, depending on airframes’ requirements. A typical application will be a long-range, super-midsize to large-cabin aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 45,000 to 60,000 pounds.
According to Cojean, the name Silvercrest comprises the words “silver” to symbolize the “high class of the business,” and “crest,” conveying the idea of altitude and
the environment “as owners will be able to sustain the next stage or two of environmental rules.” The turbofan is “neither a scaled-down design nor a derivative” of the CFM56 that Snecma produces under its 50:50 CFM International partnership with General Electric, nor of the SaM 146 program currently under way–“although it does share with them some key technologies and development processes,” he said.
Snecma has been producing engines for 50 years, Cojean noted, “but we are learning what airframers want from us as new kids on the block, with our big powerplant technology applied to a small engine. We have to assume we will be innovative enough to be selected on several platforms.” The engine is being developed first for business aviation and later will be targeted toward regional jets.
“Silvercrest will have its own specific architecture optimized for the requirements of business jets, but it will also meet the needs of smaller regional jets when the market conditions are right,” he said. “We believe our up-to-date technology can take a good share of this market.”