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Textron Aviation is putting the brakes on its Cessna Citation Hemisphere program, pending developments with Safran’s next-generation Silvercrest engine, which had been tapped to power the clean sheet, large-cabin business jet.
“I think everybody knows there have been some issues around the engine that was slated for that aircraft,” said Textron Inc. CEO Scott Donnelly in an investor conference call on April 18, 2018.
“At this point we basically have suspended the program and are waiting to see how the engine plays out.”
Originally announced at the 2015 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) tradeshow in Las Vegas, the Hemisphere would be the first clean-sheet aircraft in its category in more than 20 years, according to Textron.
It was positioned as the “pinnacle” of the Citation family, and the last in a series of new large-cabin business jets, including the Citation Latitude and Citation Longitude.
Textron had planned the first flight of the Citation Hemisphere for sometime in 2019, offering a four passenger range of 4,500 nautical miles and a maximum cruise speed at least of Mach 0.9.
The aircraft would carry up to 19 passengers, powered by two Silvercrest engines with the promise of 15 per cent lower fuel consumption and half the noise footprint of other engines in its class.
“Over the last 20 years customers in this segment have seen little innovation or investment in new products as their business needs and mission requirements have continued to evolve,” said Scott Ernest, president and CEO of Textron Aviation, in a news release in 2015.
“The Citation Hemisphere is designed to transform this segment, offering customers the latest technology available and the widest cabin in its class.”
Textron’s decision to suspend the Hemisphere program is seen as a major blow to the Silvercrest, which was also slated to power Dassault Aviation’s Falcon 5X business jet.
Dassault scrapped the Falcon 5X and subsequently launched the Falcon 6X, which will be powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW800-series engine.
It remains to be seen if Textron will scuttle the Citation Hemisphere program, or re-launch it with a new engine. P&WC is seen as a possible suitor.
“We’ll make our decisions and move forward, knowing what the performance of the [Safran] engine is,” said Scott Donnelly in the April 18 conference call.
Textron had given the Citation Hemisphere a $35 million price tag, promising the lowest total ownership cost in its class.