Textron Aviation is shelving development of the Hemisphere large-cabin business jet, Textron Inc. CEO Scott Donnelly announced this morning during its second-quarter conference call. Hemisphere could be revived at a later date, Donnelly acknowledged, but for now it’s “on hold” because the Wichita-based manufacturer isn’t satisfied with progress on the development of the Safran Silvercrest engine that would power it.
Further, Safran said its initial contract with Textron Aviation for the Silvercrest has been terminated with no financial impact to either company. The troubled engine program, which caused French airframer Dassault to cancel the Falcon 5X in late 2017, has made progress on fixing the engine’s high-pressure compressor but so far is falling short of what Textron needs.
“The engine hasn’t yet demonstrated the performance required for the aircraft,” Donnelly explained. “We would certainly revisit it [Hemisphere], but too much time has gone by here.”
Textron Aviation suspended the Hemisphere program in April 2017 because of the high-pressure compressor issue and later said it would make a decision to proceed after Safran came up with a solution. Donnelly insisted on the call that the Hemisphere decision was made based solely on the engine issue and not because of market forces or competition. “There was only one engine suitable to meet the performance point,” he said.
“While the aircraft/engine combination does not currently meet all the objectives, the Silvercrest engine development has made the intended progress over the past 12 months,” Safran said. “The new high-pressure compressor shows performance for which ground tests results have exceeded expectations.” Upcoming tests to further confirm the improvements, as well as to complete overall engine performance and durability validation, are planned, Safran added.