A slowdown in new business aircraft development programs finally ended with the May 6 unveiling of Dassault’s entry into the ultra-long-range, wide-cabin business jet market, the Falcon 10X. Of course, there are other ongoing programs, including the Falcon 6X, Gulfstream G700, and Cessna Denali, but it seems that many of the optimal niches are filled and it might be some time before we see further new programs launched.
The newest business jet program is the just-launched Falcon 10X, Dassault’s 7,500-nm competitor to the Bombardier Global 7500 and Gulfstream G700. A twinjet powered by Rolls-Royce’s Pearl 10X turbofan, the 10X will feature a huge cabin with a volume of 2,780 cu ft, the largest cross-section of a purpose-built business jet, with an interior width at 9 feet 1 inch and height of 6 feet 8 inches.
With a mtow of 115,000 pounds, the 10X will carry 51,700 pounds of fuel and have a payload of 6,500 pounds. According to Dassault's preliminary performance figures, the 10X will be able to achieve its 7,500-nm range at Mach 0.85. Maximum operating speed will be Mach 0.925, but the 10X will still be able to take off at maximum weight with a balanced field length of less than 6,000 feet and perform steep approaches. Landing distance is projected to be less than 2,500 feet.
Dassault is leveraging its experience at manufacturing composite wings for the Rafale fighter jet, and the 10X’s highly-swept wing will be made of carbon-fiber composite materials. Like all Falcons, the 10X will have leading-edge slats, flaps, spoilers, and ailerons. The empennage is also a big change for the 10X, switching from the cruciform and downward-canted horizontal stabilizers on earlier models to a T-tail configuration.
Also new for the 10X is an addition to the digital flight control system (DFCS)—the single power-lever Smart Throttle that was tested extensively during a 7X flight-test campaign last year. Dassault’s plan to incorporate the Smart Throttle to the DFCS will enable the addition of Recovery Mode.
With full control of all aspects of fly-by-wire flight control as well as the engines, the DFCS will be able to return the 10X to stable flight after an upset, when the pilot pushes the Recovery button on the instrument panel. Incorporation of the Recovery Mode may also lead to the addition of an Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (AGCAS). The single power lever, Recovery Mode, and AGCAS are standard on the Rafale.
The 10X’s DFCS has additional features, including a soft go-around and “comfort” climb and descent, designed to make passengers more comfortable during maneuvering. The Smart Throttle also helps facilitate improvements for reduced-thrust takeoffs and noise abatement.
Multiple touchscreen displays simplify the pilot interface, including a graphical flight management system and simplified checklists with auto-sensing of many switch positions. Much of this is designed to address both the possibility of reduced crew operations, which could be one pilot flying while the other rests. In fact, the flight deck will be fitted with fully reclining seats for what is termed extended minimum crew operations.
Dual FalconEye head-up displays (HUD) will be double as primary instruments, opening up the panel displays for other uses. Dassault expects to have EVS-to-land capability with FalconEye, allowing landings to touchdown and rollout in poor visibility with no natural vision outside the aircraft.
The Pearl 10X represents the first time a Falcon will be powered by a Rolls-Royce engine. For the new jet, the Pearl 10X will produce more than 18,000 pounds of thrust while delivering 5 percent lower specific fuel consumption compared to earlier-generation engines.
The engine features a bladed-disk (blisk) fan design and a 10-stage compressor with six stages of blisks. An ultra-low-emissions combustor cuts noise and emissions, and a two-stage high-pressure turbine has a shroudless blade design. Testing will include running on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Spirit AeroSystems will build the nacelle system, and it and the 10X engine will be flight tested on Rolls-Royce’s Boeing 747-400 flying testbed. Rolls-Royce will maintain a digital twin of the engine to track its performance, including capture of more than 9,000 parameters.
With so much cabin volume, Dassault designers are working on various configurations with up to four lounges, including a full bathroom with shower, private cinema, and VIP master suite with a queen-size bed and its own bathroom.
A dining table with four individual seats will allow passengers to exit their seats without disturbing seatmates. Passenger seats will have an available full-recline option like first-class seating on airliners.
The 10X will have a 3,000-foot cabin altitude at 41,000 feet and air filtered by ozone and VOC filters. Larger windows are fitted, with 38 in the 10X’s long fuselage.
Priced at $75 million in 2021 dollars, the 10X is expected to be certified and enter service in 2025.
On March 10, Dassault’s next jet to enter service, the Falcon 6X, took off for the first time from France’s Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport, launching the new jet’s flight test program. As of late April, the first 6X had logged more than 50 hours and flown to its Mach 0.90 maximum operating speed.
On April 30, the second flight-test 6X made its first flight, and a third is expected to begin flying in the third quarter. The latter will be equipped with a full interior, and testing will cover cabin systems, galley equipment, inflight entertainment systems, and Ka-band satcom. The fourth 6X will be the first production version and it will fly around the world on a demonstration tour.
The twin-engine 6X is powered by Pratt & Whitney's PW812D ("D" for Dassault), with each engine delivering 13,500 pounds of thrust. The PW812D features a 44-inch single-piece fan, a 4.5:1 to 5:1 bypass ratio, and the low-emissions Talon X combustor.
Until the 10X enters service in 2025, the 6X will be Dassault’s largest Falcon, with a cabin height of 6 feet 5 inches and a width of 8 feet 5 inches, and also will have the largest cross-section dimensions of any purpose-built business jet. With three lounge areas, the 6X’s aisle is five inches wider than earlier Falcons. Baggage is accommodated in a 155-cu-ft compartment inside the pressure vessel, plus there is another unpressurized compartment of 76 cu ft.
Dassault’s performance specifications for the 6X call for 5,500-nm range at a long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.80 while carrying eight passengers and three crew. At Mach 0.85 that drops to 5,100 nm. Maximum operating speed is Mach 0.90 and the maximum altitude is 51,000 feet.
A new feature in the 6X design facilitates short-field performance—the fly-by-wire flight control system’s use of electrically driven flaps and flaperons. This allows the flaperons to act as both flaps (increasing lift) and ailerons (roll control)—a first for a business jet. With the control surfaces working in tandem, lift-over-drag augmentation improves steep approach visibility, control, and comfort and enables a low approach speed of 109 ktas at typical landing weights. Takeoff distance at sea level and mtow is 5,480 feet.
The 6X flight deck features the latest version of the Honeywell Epic-based EASy III avionics, with four 14.1-inch displays, Honeywell’s IntuVue RDR-4000 radar, and the FalconEye head-up display with combined vision system (overlaid synthetic vision and enhanced vision system imagery). FalconEye is standard in the 6X and was developed with Elbit Systems.
To enhance 6X maintenance, the jet is the first Falcon fitted with the FalconScan advanced diagnostic system. FalconScan “monitors and reports on 100,000 maintenance parameters,” according to Dassault.
Falcon 6X certification and entry into service are planned in 2022.
Gulfstream has made extensive progress on its flagship G700 program, with six aircraft now in the test fleet as the company closes in on certification. Entry into service is expected in 2022. First flight of the G700 took place on Feb. 14, 2020, and that aircraft has flown to 54,000 feet and Mach 0.999.
The largest Gulfstream jet ever, the G700 will offer up to five living areas, a range of 7,500 nm, and maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925. Flight testing has demonstrated a balanced field length of 6,250 feet at maximum takeoff weight and a typical landing distance of about 2,500 feet.
Equipped with a full production interior, the sixth test G700 is fitted with Gulfstream’s new “ultra galley,” which has more than 10 feet of counter space, dedicated crew rest space, six-seat conference and dining area, and stateroom with a full-length wardrobe. Further, the twinjet features the OEM’s ultra-high-definition circadian lighting system, 100 percent fresh cabin air, low cabin altitude, and “whisper quiet” noise levels.
The galley is large enough to accommodate a refrigerator, microwave, and conventional oven. A dining area in the fourth zone can be configured in a club-six layout with a quick-deploy table that spans the entire cross-section.
Gulfstream showed a cabin mockup with a master bedroom with a full-size bed and dresser, in addition to an en suite lavatory with a toilet and vanity opposite from a floor-to-ceiling storage closet. In a first for a Gulfstream, the aft lav includes windows. Aft lavatory options not shown on the mockup include a larger vanity with opposite toilet, as well as a shower. A rear door in the aft lavatory allows in-flight entry to the 195-cu-ft baggage compartment, which can hold up to 2,500 pounds.
The G700 is powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines. Delivering 18,250 pounds of thrust, the Pearl 700 has 8 percent more takeoff thrust, a 12 percent better thrust-to-weight ratio (8 percent more thrust and 4 percent less weight), 3.5 percent less fuel burn, and 5 percent greater efficiency compared to the Rolls-Royce BR725 engine on the current-production G650. The new engine will meet or exceed Stage 5 noise standards and have nitrous oxide emissions that are projected to be 35 percent below the CAEP/6 standard.
According to Rolls-Roycde, the Pearl 700 features a 10-stage, high-pressure axial compressor; improved gearbox breather exhaust; new Safran-Aircelle nacelle; 24-blade, 51.8-inch blisked fan; bypass ratio in the 5:1 range; high-pressure compression ratio of 24:1 (compared to 16:1 on the BR725); six blisked compressor stages; low-emission combustor; two-stage shroudless high-pressure turbine; and an enhanced four-stage low-pressure turbine.
A new feature for a Gulfstream jet is the G700’s predictive landing performance system, designed to shield against runway overrun and to warn pilots to go around when necessary. A new dual head-up display will include enhanced flight vision system with EVS-to-land (no natural vision) down to touchdown and rollout.
Like its siblings, the fly-by-wire G500 and G600, the G700 is equipped with BAE active inceptor sidesticks, which are electronically interconnected and simulate mechanical linkage to prevent simultaneous pilot input.
Avionics are Gulfstream’s touchscreen Symmetry flight deck, which is based on Honeywell’s Primus Epic avionics. The full three-axis digital fly-by-wire system offers flight-envelope protection, stability augmentation, increased redundancy, and reduced maintenance.
Many of the visible switches found in earlier designs have been eliminated. Instead, inputs are made through 10 touchscreens like those in the G500/600. In addition, cursor control devices are integrated into the center console, giving each pilot control of three of the four main display screens and allowing data to be shifted between them in the event of a failure.
Gulfstream has also redesigned the pilot seats for better comfort—an important feature on an airplane with an endurance exceeding 14 hours.
For many years, there was little competition in the single-engine turboprop market. While Piper has stepped up the performance of its Meridian/M500 with the more powerful and longer-range M600, there were no competitors for the TBM 900 series and Pilatus PC-12 until the Epic E1000, which was certified in November 2019. Textron Aviation finally added its Cessna brand to the fray with the Denali single-engine turboprop, announced in July 2016, though its development has been delayed.
First flight of the Denali was originally planned for 2018 or 2019, and now this is due to happen in the second half of this year. Interestingly, a top former Textron Aviation official involved in the Denali launch told AIN that the reason for selecting the name Denali is because Denali is the highest mountain in North America at 20,310 feet, about three times higher than Switzerland’s Mount Pilatus and signifying Cessna’s desire to unseat the PC-12 as king of the single-engine utility turboprops. Of course, the Denali doesn’t offer three times the performance, but it will be competitive.
The Denali is powered by GE Aviation’s Catalyst turboprop engine, which has been ground-tested on GE’s testbed Beechcraft King Air 350. The Fadec-equipped 1,300-shp engine has a single-lever power and propeller control and features an all-titanium, 3D-aero compressor design for lightweight and efficient power generation; cooled turbine blades enabling higher thrust and fuel efficiency; and integrated electronic propulsion control to enable the single-lever power control.
With a four-passenger range of 1,600 nm, the Denali will fly at a maximum cruise speed of 285 knots and be capable of carrying a full-fuel payload of 1,100 pounds and up to 11 occupants. The turboprop features a flat-floor cabin, a 53-inch-by-59-inch rear cargo door, a digital pressurization system that maintains a 6,130-foot cabin to 31,000 feet, and an optional externally serviceable belted lavatory with pocket door enclosure in the aft of the cabin.
The cabin design also incorporates large passenger windows, a refreshment cabinet, and an in-flight-accessible baggage compartment. In addition, the interior is designed to be easily and quickly converted between passenger and cargo configurations.
Pilots will fly the Denali using Garmin’s G3000 touchscreen-controlled integrated avionics suite, which will include voice command with automatic speech recognition, weather radar, autopilot, advanced terrain awareness warning system, and ADS-B Out/In capabilities.