Dassault Aviation (Booth Z67, Static AD_20) is making good use of the return this week of the in-person EBACE to showcase the latest additions to its Falcon business jet family. The French airframer is displaying a fully completed Falcon 6X at Europe’s premier business aviation event, marking the twinjet's public debut, while a full-size cabin mockup of its 7,500-nm Falcon 10X is making its EBACE debut.
The 10X mockup on display this week in Geneva has a cabin configuration that differs from the one shown in October at NBAA-BACE—which is remaining in the U.S.—and emphasizes the highly modular design and flexible arrangements of the interior. Dassault unveiled the 10X, its largest and longest-range aircraft yet, last May.
In addition to its globe-girdling capability, the cabin is larger, wider, and taller than any currently available traditional business jet. The 10X is slated for an entry into service (EIS) in late 2025.
Meanwhile, the Falcon 6X, which was announced in 2018 and rolled out in a virtual ceremony in December 2020, is expected to enter service in the middle of next year.
A delay in certification was announced on Sunday, as a result of supply chain issues caused by Covid 19. The 6X is based on the 5X cross-section, though the persistent delays and development issues of the Safran Snecma Silvercrest turbofan that ultimately led to the cancellation of the 5X program prompted Dassault to go back to Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) as the engine supplier. The Falcon 7X and 8X trijets are also powered by P&WC engines.
The 6X’s PW812D engine ("D" for Dassault) received Transport Canada certification in December, with EASA and FAA certification pending. Delivering 13,500 pounds of thrust, the PW812D features a 44-inch single-piece fan, 4.5:1 to 5:1 bypass ratio, and low-emissions Talon X combustor.
With eight passengers and three crew at a long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.80, the 6X’s maximum range is 5,500 nm (10,200 km). At Mach 0.85 that drops to 5,100 nm. Maximum Mach operating speed (MMO) is 0.90 and the ceiling is 51,000 feet.
In March, Dassault test pilots pushed the Falcon 6X beyond its maximum operating speed of Mach 0.90. In a subsequent test, they pinned the airspeed indicator at Mach 0.97 and the “aircraft performed flawlessly, proving its structural robustness and superior maneuverability,” noted Dassault. Engine test runs included burning a 50-percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) blend.
The airframer has dedicated three development aircraft to the flight-testing phase last year. The first test 6X, S/N 1, completed its initial flight in March 2021, the second example in April of that year, and S/N 3 followed in June. Each test aircraft, as well as S/N 4—the first production 6X—is flying on a daily basis, several hours per flight.
Test points beyond Mmo and Vmo have been completed and every aspect of flight testing, from system development to aircraft performance and envelope expansion, is proceeding as scheduled and fully in line with expectations, according to Dassault.
The long-range fly-by-wire twinjet achieved another step toward certification in March when a team of pilots, engineers, and technicians from Dassault Aviation and Pratt & Whitney Canada completed cold-weather testing. Taking place in Iqaluit in Northern Canada, the cold soak tests were conducted on Falcon 6X S/N 3.
This aircraft traveled from the manufacturer’s test center in Istres near Marseille, France, to Iqaluit for the trials. Temperatures there reached as low as -37 degrees C (-35 degrees F) during testing of the aircraft’s PW812D engines, systems, and low-temperature maintainability, said Dassault Aviation executive v-p of civil aircraft Carlos Brana.
“The aircraft operated flawlessly at the extreme temperatures an aircraft can be subjected to in the severest climate conditions,” he added. Engine ground runs and high-speed taxi tests were also part of the ground testing. A test flight followed checks of anti-icing and handling qualities and fuel stability and hydraulic fluid temperatures while the 6X operated in a holding pattern at 10,000 feet msl.
According to Dassault chief test pilot Philippe Duchateau, the 6X is shaping up to become “a new benchmark in flying performance and comfort.” The flying qualities of the company’s new long-range extra-widebody twin “are truly extraordinary, even by our exacting Dassault standards. We are extremely satisfied with the way the aircraft is performing during the test campaign,” he said.
Duchateau lauded the pitch and roll precision and reliability of the twinjet. He added that the flaperons provide "entire satisfaction. Associated with the digital flight control system, they allow very precise management of the trajectory and provide an even more marked impression of fluidity than on our previous aircraft.”
S/N 4, which is on display this week in Geneva, has been fitted with a full interior in the airframer’s facilities at France's Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport. The aircraft took to the skies at the end of the first quarter and is being used for cabin design validation and to demonstrate the operational maturity of the 6X’s systems.
This specific Falcon 6X will embark on a round-the-world campaign in June to demonstrate a diversity of missions within a short time frame, such as high- and low-altitude (below sea level) operations, extreme hot and cold weather operations, and short runway landings and departures.
S/N 3 also features a full interior, including in-flight entertainment and communications systems. In addition to testing this equipment, the aircraft is used to evaluate environmental features and temperature control and validate cabin acoustics systems, which Dassault said “are expected to be the industry reference alongside those on the Falcon 8X trijet.”
Meanwhile, the French airframer’s first customer Falcon 6X, S/N 5 and registered as F-WZOC, is receiving a full production interior at its 1.25-million-sq-ft completion facility in Little Rock, Arkansas. The green twinjet was ferried from Bordeaux-Mérignac to Little Rock on January 28 on an 11-hour, 16-minute flight.
It will stay in Little Rock until the model’s certification and consequent handover to its owner—Dassault has not disclosed the 6X launch customer. Completions are performed in a $60 million, 250,000-sq-ft hangar Dassault built in Little Rock in 2015 for the Falcon 8X and 5X.
According to Dassault, production of additional units is in “full swing” and more than a dozen aircraft are on the final assembly line.
With the service entry nearing, the OEM's product support organization is working to stock Falcon 6X spare parts at its 15 parts distribution centers around the world to ensure maximum parts availability and support from day one. A number of long-lead time items, including large airframe structures and landing gear, have been ordered, and “we plan on having all needed spares on hand three months before entry into service,” according to Jean Kayanakis, Dassault's senior v-p of worldwide Falcon customer service and service center network.
Also ongoing is the training of technicians for the 6X at its own MRO network, which encompasses TAG Maintenance Services, Dassault Falcon Service, and ExecuJet MRO Services. “We’ve poured everything we’ve learned about reliability and maintainability into the 6X. But if entry-into-service problems crop up, you know we’ll do whatever it takes to keep operators flying,” he asserted. A major advantage, Kaynakis added, is that Dassault’s customer service staff has been involved in the aircraft’s design from the beginning.
When announced in 2018, the 6.5-foot (1.98-meter) tall and 8.5-foot (2.58-meter) wide 6X cabin was presented as featuring the largest cross-section of any purpose-built business jet. It is now surpassed by Dassault’s own Falcon 10X, which is set to have the largest cabin of any purpose-built business jet.
In fact, both the 6X and 10X, with their super-sized circumferences, mark a sharp departure from the Falcon line’s traditional modest ramp scale, reflecting a change in customer demands. With the new models, Dassault also makes clear it will not leave that market to rivals Gulfstream and Bombardier.
Powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce Pearl 10X turbofans—designed to eventually run on 100 percent SAF—the 10X’s cabin will boast an interior width of nine feet one inch and height of six feet eight inches. By comparison, the Gulfstream G700 cabin measures eight feet two inches wide and six-feet-three-inches tall, while the Bombardier Global 7500 is eight feet wide and six feet two inches high.
All three jets’ cabin volume is nearly similar at around 2,700 cu ft. While the Global 7500’s published range of 7,700 nm is 200 nm longer than the 10X and G700, all three have price tags of around $75 million (2021 dollars).
Leveraging its experience manufacturing composite wings for its Rafale fighter, Dassault said the 10X’s highly swept wings will be made of carbon-fiber materials, making it the company's first commercial airplane with composite wings. The first structural wings, equipment, and subassemblies for the 10X are being built at Dassault facilities across France and Switzerland, including its new factory 4.0 smart facility in Seclin, northern France.
A 10X test bench in Saint-Cloud and Istres, France will develop and test systems and flight controls, and a redesigned building at Dassault’s plant in Biarritz will manufacture the advanced all-composite wing. The first 10X is scheduled to fly in early 2024, Dassault said.