Dassault axes Falcon 5X, launches new jet with new engine
Dassault Aviation cancelled the Falcon 5X program on December 13 and is now in the process of scrapping its contract with Safran for the troubled Silvercrest turbofan that was to power the twinjet. At the same time, Dassault CEO Eric Trappier launched a new Falcon, powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW800 engines, that features the same cross section as the Falcon 5X and a range of 5,500 nautical miles. That as-yet-unnamed model is scheduled to enter service in 2022.
The delivery of compliant Silvercrest engines was originally planned for the end of 2013, but Safran met recurrent technical issues during the program development. In 2015 and 2016, major technical issues led Safran to announce a new schedule, with engine delivery for 5X flight testing by the end of this year. Consequently, Dassault postponed the 5X’s service entry from 2017 to 2020, which resulted in the cancellation of 12 orders in 2016.
The Falcon 5X made its first flight on July 5 with preliminary versions of the Silvercrest engine. Subsequently, Safran experienced issues with the high-pressure compressor and informed Dassault of an additional delay and new performance shortfall, “making the 2020 entry into service of the aircraft impossible,” Dassault said.
“Considering the magnitude of the risks involved, both on the technical and schedule aspects of the Silvercrest program, Dassault has initiated the termination process of the Silvercrest contract, leading to the end of the Falcon 5X program, and plans to start negotiations with Safran,” the French aircraft manufacturer said.
“There is still a strong market need for a brand new long-range aircraft with a very large cabin,” said Trappier, “so I have decided to launch a new Falcon project powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada engines.”
Despite Dassault's decision to walk away from Silvercrest, Textron Aviation has confirmed it "remains committed" to the engine for its in-development Cessna Citation Hemisphere. “As we currently understand it, the latest Silvercrest status does not significantly impact engine deliveries for the Hemisphere program,” a Textron Aviation spokeswoman told BJT sister publication Aviation International News. “We will continue to stay closely aligned on their progress and how it may affect the Hemisphere’s development timeline.” The Hemisphere’s first flight is planned for 2019, followed by entry into service in 2020.
“Safran Aircraft Engines regretfully notes the decision by Dassault Aviation to start the termination process of the Silvercrest contract for their Falcon 5X program," a Safran spokesman said. “The need to optimize the Silvercrest’s high-pressure compressor, identified during flight tests in September 2017, has resulted in a longer development time, which Dassault deemed incompatible with its aircraft development schedule, providing for an entry into service in 2020.
“In no way does this call into question the engine’s performance at its entry into service, nor Safran Aircraft Engines’ ability to complete the different stages in the engine’s development," he concluded. “Safran Aircraft Engines is fully mobilized to finalize the development and deliver to Cessna the version selected for its future Hemisphere aircraft on schedule.”