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EBACE: Snecma eyes maiden Silvercrest sortie in fourth quarter

Engine manufacturer Snecma [stand 1247] is advancing towards first flight of its new Silvercrest business jet powerplant in the fourth quarter of 2013, having logged 4,000h of ground tests since October.

It plans to install the 12,000lb-thrust (53.4kN) turbofan on a Gulfstream GII it has purchased specifically for the flight-test campaign, says Loïc Nicholas, general manager business aviation at the French company.

The aircraft is undergoing preparation for the engine at a conversion company in San Antonio, Texas, says Nicholas. This involves removing one of the GII's Rolls-Royce Spey powerplants as well alteration of its engine controls and installation of data-monitoring equipment.

Integration trials will be conducted with the aircraft on the ground before the Spey is re-installed for the ferry flight to France. Flight-test activities will then be conducted at Istres air base in the south of the country.

Three prototype engines have been built and parts manufactured for a further five, along with spare inventory for the test fleet, says Nicholas.

Endurance tests will begin shortly at sister company Techspace Aero in Belgium, with the first engine recently delivered to its Liège facility. It is still on track for certification in 2015, says Nicholas, ahead of its debut on the super-midsize Cessna Longitude in 2017.

Nicholas still believes it will find a place on other future programmes: "We are confident we will get other customers, otherwise we would not be here."

Ground testing has not revealed anything untoward, with "very clean vibration behaviour", says Nicholas. "There have been no specific results that have demonstrated that we need to change the shape of the blades, for instance."