Safran executives said yesterday’s announced deal by NetJets for up to 150 large-cabin Cessna Citation Hemispheres demonstrates that two of the industry’s biggest players still have faith in its delayed Silvercrest engine. While the French engine manufacturer has devised a fix for the Silvercrest's high-pressure compressor problem, it won’t be able to verify it resolves the issue until summer next year.
That's when testing will begin on a redesigned high-pressure axial compressor. Only then will Safran be able to issue a revised certification timetable, it said.
Silvercrest program manager Michel Brioude expressed confidence that EASA would accept all engine testing to date not related to changes being made to the compressor and said that the company had been in close consultation with the agency on its plans to minimize any further delays.
Textron Aviation selected the Silvercrest for the Citation Hemisphere two years ago but was forced to suspend the jet’s development earlier this year due to delays with the engine program. Those delays forced another OEM, Dassault Falcon, to formally deselect the engine late last year and that triggered a $280 million settlement from Safran to Dassault that was announced last month. Persistent delays with the Silvercrest program, first announced in 2006, forced Safran to take a $720 million write-down against it in 2016.
Safran executives said on Tuesday at NBAA 2018 that senior NetJets and Textron officials recently received an in-depth technical briefing on the company’s solution to the compressor problem, which created sufficient confidence to propel the announcement of Monday's deal for NetJets to take up to 150 Silvercrest-powered Hemispheres.
While it is waiting on the new parts, Safran (Booth 2235) is continuing testing the engine and has amassed more than 9,000 test hours and 300 flight test hours, with the fleet leader tallying a total of 452 hours in the air and on the ground. Despite the program’s chronic delays, Safran said the engine’s unique position in the marketplace—in the 9,000 to 12,000-pound-thrust range—has generated interest from several OEMs that it declined to name.
The Silvercrest engine borrows from the design of the company’s commercial products, including the new CFM Leap engine, and is designed to be operated “on condition” without a fixed TBO and serviced on wing.
Separately, Safran Helicopter Engines has announced a new extended “pay as you fly” Support-By-The-Hour (SBH) service range: 5Star for civil operators of up to five helicopters, SBH Classic for fleets of six or more aircraft, and SBHM for military operators. The program now covers 40 percent of Safran customer flying hours, the engine manufacturer said.