The Cessna Citation was one of the first business jets to become a household name across America. But by the 1990s, the Citation was losing market share, credibility, and notoriety to its competition that was willing to innovate key features, market to a wider audience, and deliver results. Rappers, athletes, and celebrities preferred the brand recognition of a Gulfstream V (pronounced “G-5”) to the heritage and reliability of a Cessna Citation.
In 2009 in the wake of the financial recession, Cessna announced its plans to exit the large-cabin, long-range market. Due to cost overruns, delayed timelines, and decreased demand, the Citation Columbus needed a complete makeover. It would take another six years before that transformation was ready to be publicly discussed.
In 2015, Scott Ernest (disappointingly, no relation to Justin Ernest of Section C Skydeck) made a newsworthy announcement at the National Business Aviation Association annual meeting in Las Vegas. As the President of Textron Aviation (parent company of Cessna), he boldly asserted that the Citation Hemisphere would revolutionize the large-cabin, long-range business jet market with technological improvements, improved operating efficiencies, lower purchase price, and a lower operating cost than any competitor.
The large-cabin, long-range market was unique in the world of business aviation. Among all categories of general aviation, this segment was the most resilient to economic downturns. A long-range entrant would diversify Textron Aviation’s business; with no options in the large-cabin category, loyal Textron customers were forced to support other competitors. Lastly, more customers wanted longer ranges and increased cabin sizes that allowed nonstop intercontinental travel from Chicago to St. Petersburg, Sydney to Shanghai, or Rio de Janeiro to Nairobi. Entry into the large-cabin, long-range market was the next logical step for an aviation behemoth like Cessna.
The big surprise, however, came when Ernest announced which engines would be powering the new aircraft. Instead of using a Honeywell HTF7700L (as had been used on the Hemisphere’s sister program, the Longitude) or the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW800 (as had been designed for the Columbus), the Hemisphere would be powered by two Snecma Silvercrest 2C engines. These smaller engines produced roughly 25% less thrust than the PW800, decreased maximum cruise velocities to Mach .9, and lengthened runway requirements. Despite all these supposed problems, the announcement sent shock waves across the aerospace supplier markets for another reason.
Snecma, recently renamed Safran Aircraft Systems, had a long history in aerospace. Snecma was one of the first partners to produce engines for the supersonic Concorde, and the firm continued to experiment and design components for commercial and military applications. But in the world of general aviation, Snecma was a new entrant to the already packed field.
The Snecma Silvercrest had never been used on a production airframe. In fact, the only other platform that planned to use the engine, the Dassault Falcon 5, had been delayed almost three years due to supply chain problems with the Silvercrest engines. Textron’s choice of selecting the unknown player when the competitors were so well-established seemed to many industry analysts as a peculiar choice.
With its two engines each producing 12,000 pounds of thrust, the Snecma Silvercrest engines were a huge gamble for Ernest and the future of the Citation Hemisphere.
The Silvercrest engines incorporate the latest advanced, field-proven technologies to offer unrivaled performance in its class in terms of direct operating cost, propulsion efficiency, reliability, and environmental friendliness. These engines lower fuel consumption by up to 15%, reduce NOx emissions by up to 40% under CAEP/6 standards and half the noise footprint compared to other engines in its class.
For an industry used to talking about speed, distance, and size, this statement signaled a change by Textron. Ernest and his team would design an airframe that was more fuel-efficient, more focused on pollutant reduction, and quieter than any other market player. Minimizing its CO2, NOx, and noise footprints was not just good publicity, it was good business. With air travel a major contributor to carbon emissions (the primary culprit for global climate change), Textron was banking on the fact that travelers would demand more environmentally friendly options in the future.
With the unveiling of the Citation Hemisphere still two years away, it is unclear what other bold moves the design team will be making. Wingtip devices (used to increase lift and decrease drag) are a standard feature on all long-range business jets, and a shift from aluminum components to carbon fiber will help reduce weight. But central to the success of this program will be the increased fuel efficiency of the Snecma Silvercrest engines.
Put yourself in the shoes of Scott Ernest:
- What are the advantages of the Silvercrest engine? What are the disadvantages?
- How would you market the new airplane? Be specific with your marketing plan.
 Davies, Alud. (2015, November 16). Cessna Launches Citation Hemisphere. www.corporatejetinvestor.com/articles/cessna-launches-citation-hemisphere-765/
 Siebenmark, Jerry. “Citation Hemisphere’s Engine Maker in Big Acquisition.” Wichita Eagle. 2017 January 19.
 Schonland, Allison. (2016, October 31). “Cessna Bets on the Silvercrest.” https://www.airinsight.com/cessna-bets-silvercrest/
 Textron Sales Brochure. http://cessna.txtav.com/en/citation/hemisphere#_model-powerplant.