Although Textron Aviation has paused development of its largest-yet Cessna Citation—the Hemisphere—due to delays with the jet’s Snecma Silvercrest engines, “The Hemisphere is still a program that we’re very excited about,” said Rob Scholl, Textron Aviation senior v-p of sales and marketing.
About two weeks ago, Textron Aviation president and CEO Scott Ernest and senior vice president of engineering Brad Thress visited Snecma for an update on the Silvercrest. The engine had suffered problems with its high-pressure axial compressor during flight testing. “We’re working with them to see how their testing’s going,” Scholl said. “We’ll probably know in about 12 to 18 months where they are. But we are still very much committed to the Hemisphere.”
According to Thress, “Next July they’re supposed to run that test with the redesigned compressor and prove that the engine is where it needs to be. So that’s what we’re waiting on. In the meantime, we’re working closely with them, and they’re giving us engineering performance data as they gain it, with respect to modeling performance of the changes that they’re making. We’re staying hand in glove with them as they work through it to make sure that we understand the design limitations on the overall airplane.”
Scholl explained that Textron Aviation is still collecting customer feedback on the Hemisphere design. “We’ve had the mockup over in our advanced design studio and we take customers through it all the time. We’ve gotten their feedback, so there’s still some time to make some changes if we want to.”
Regarding Snecma, Thress said, “I couldn’t be more confident. These are competent people. They built 40,000 CFM56s. They’re the largest turbine helicopter engine maker on the planet. They have a host of military engines. They absolutely know what they’re doing.”