Snecma expands its family of engines
How would you describe Snecma's position in the business aviation market?
We are developing the Silvercrest business jet engine, rated at 9,500 to 12,000 lb of thrust, and it has already been selected by Cessna for their new Citation Longitude. A major milestone was passed in October 2012, with the start of ground tests on the first complete engine, or First Engine to Test (FETT) as we call it. We announced this milestone at the NBAA on October 30, and also unveiled a full-scale model of the engine for the first time. While the business aircraft market was not spared by the economic crisis, the segment for which the Silvercrest was designed (super mid-size, large and long-range) was not as heavily impacted. Today, this market is ready to take off again, especially in the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. So we are very confident in the future of Silvercrest. In fact, we're continuing active discussions with other major aircraft manufacturers. We are now gearing up production, and engine certification is scheduled for 2015.
What about the regional aircraft market?
We recently entered this market with our SaM146 engine, co-developed with Russian engine-maker Saturn. The main challenge here is to ensure a successful service entry. In addition to the regional jet market, the same pressure to lower fuel consumption (by 20% to 30%) should also reinvigorate the turboprop segment of this market. Snecma also has an opportunity to gain a foothold in this market segment. We are considering different turboprop concepts in the 5,000 shaft horsepower (shp) class, for an engine that would provide a considerable reduction in fuel consumption. The program hasn't received a green light yet, but it is far enough along to be assigned its own team, which is validating the technologies under development. Other Group companies will also be contributing to this program, and a new turboprop engine could enter service towards 2018 or 2020.