Dassault Reveals New Falcon 5X Business Jet

 - November 1, 2013, 3:10 AM
The Falcon 5X will have a range of 5,200 nm (with eight pax, three crew, NBAA IFR reserves at ISA and full fuel).

Dassault took the wraps off the airplane known thus far as “SMS” at the NBAA Convention late last month. The Falcon 5X is a Mach 0.8 fly-by-wire twinjet powered by Snecma Silvercrest turbofans, and it is decidedly not the super-midsize that its project initials suggested.

In fact, SMS could have stood for smokescreen. The 5X, slated to fly before mid-2015 and enter service in the first half of 2017, is bigger inside than the company’s current flagship, the Falcon 7X.

The first batch of 40 standardized 5Xs will be fully equipped and priced “in the mid-40s [millions] in today’s dollars,” said Dassault. Three development aircraft will be built and aircraft number one will be retained for future development work.

“It’s time now to introduce a new airplane,” said John Rosanvallon, president and CEO of Dassault Falcon Jet, based at Teterboro Airport. “The best is coming now.” He made clear that the 5X likely will launch a new line of jets that could ultimately grow to provide Dassault with a competitor for new large-cabin jets from Bombardier and Gulfstream.

“There is no doubt that the 5X will be creating new derivatives in the future,” said Olivier Villa, senior v-p for civil aircraft, who suggested an “8X” would be well suited to China and other developing regions.

Maximum takeoff weight for the 5X is 69,600 pounds and ratio of max landing weight to max takeoff weight is 95 percent, said Villa. “So you can land almost straight away to pick up passengers, then go on a long mission–typically 5,200 nm or 11 hours 30 minutes–off a 5,000-foot runway, landing at 105 knots.” High-speed cruise will reduce range, and the Mmo (maximum operating Mach number) is pegged at Mach 0.9.

Dassault claims that the 5X will be “the most efficient airplane, 50 percent more efficient than competitors and 30 percent less costly to operate.” For example, Dassault expects the 5X will fly 1,500 nm on 10,000 pounds of fuel, whereas the Global 5000, it says, can fly just over 1,000 nm on that much fuel. “The Falcon 5X will save up to $4 million over six years (based on an average of 500 hours per year),” the French company claims.

New Technology

Villa said that although for the 5X design there was a “special focus on the availability of the aircraft” (reliability), there is also a range of technological enhancements, including a new wing “about the same size as the 7X wing” and the new engine. Notably, the aircraft benefits from Dassault’s fighter heritage with flaperons, not seen on a Falcon before, and a full fly-by-wire flight control system, which can employ all the control surfaces together to enhance efficiency throughout the flight profile, including benefits in maneuvering and comfort in turbulence.

“We could have kept the same wing and digital flight control system [as the 7X],” said Villa, “but we decided to bring a new wing and DFCS to the 5X, both being developed by Dassault in-house, and a new cockpit standard, optimal use of manufacturing technology, pressurized fuel tanks and a new step-in digital mock-up. We are using Catia version6, which brings a 4-D mockup, with simulation capability for all the systems.”

The “sophisticated” wing, he said, features three slats, “efficient winglets and a new curved trailing edge, and flaperons, which we’ve [used] so far only on military aircraft.” The wing buffet margin has been increased by 15 percent and the lift-to-drag ratio is up by 5 to 10 percent, said Villa. Differential use of the flaperons helps to achieve this improvement.

Francois Dupré, 5X flight control system project manager, said, “We moved up a step with the 7X by integrating all the primary control surfaces, taking [pilot] commands and translating them using new functions that drastically reduce pilot workload, for example autotrim. Also it [will be] comfortable in turbulence.

“With the 5X we went even further, integrating the high-lift devices and airbrakes and nosewheel steering into the FCS architecture. So we can realize the high lift and airbrake functions using all surfaces, increasing the [overall] efficiency of the system.” As part of this, said Dupré, Dassault “took the opportunity to introduce new flaperons with high-speed servo-actuators. These can deflect differentially or symmetrically to complement the slats and flaps and can be used as airbrakes.”

The handling qualities and degradation mode philosophies are “close to those of the 7X,” said Dupré, with normal laws, reverting to alternate laws, reverting to direct laws as the minimum required for aircraft control.

Cockpit Features

The cockpit has 32 percent more window area than the 7X, and the compartment is also larger. “The larger cockpit makes it easier for the pilots to rest during cruise,” he said. The pilot seats (supplied by Zodiac Aerospace’s Sicma Aero Seat subsidiary) recline to 130 degrees.

The new flight management system (FMS) is by Honeywell, which will also supply its RDR-4000 3D digital weather radar. Dual EFBs are integrated, one on each side of the instrument panel. The plan eventually is to have dual Elbit head-up displays (HUDs) but initially there will be only one, for the left seat.

The HUDs will offer a new combined vision system (CVS), which includes both synthetic vision system (SVS) and enhanced vision system (EVS) information. “We decided to go further to have a near-IR [infrared] camera and new EVS camera too, fitted to the top of the nose but integrated. We worked hard with Elbit on this,” said Philippe Deleume, Dassault’s chief test pilot. “We designed a brand-new HUD with Elbit, providing a wider field of view and new symbology, which is completely consistent head-down or head-up. The goal is to go to a primary display in the HUD. This is a proof-of-concept now as it is a long process to get certification, and later we’ll move to two HUDs and they’ll be primary displays. This will be a first for a business aircraft.” He also hopes it will lead to “an alternative to autoland” right down to zero-zero.

A new engine control unit, supplied by Ratier-Figeac, offers another innovative feature, movable or mobile detents (using the Hall effect in magnetism). The mobile detents adjust for ambient conditions and can help facilitate noise-sensitive departures, for example. “This is so the pilot can easily find the new N1 setting to reduce noise,” Deleume said.

Dassault has designed a new fixed-base development simulator for the 5X. “The 5X flight deck is based on the [Honeywell] EASy cockpit, with a T-configuration for the 10-inch displays,” he said. “There is better integration of the EFBs now, sidesticks and twin HUDs and full consistency with the other Falcons.” The EFBs are still Class 2 devices. Deleume said developing a Class 3 solution would be expensive and subject to rapid obsolescence.

“There is more automation to decrease the overall pilot workload and decrease pilot errors,” he said. “Also it has simple and reliable initialization, with simple on/off functions and a routine sequence.”

On the maintenance side, Villa said, “We are starting the MSG-3 process for defining the maintenance, but the intervals will be at least 800 hours/12 months between inspections–that’s 30 percent longer than the 7X.” The 5X will also have “a new standard in integrated maintenance,” he said, with a maintenance computer that can store up to 10,000 parameters, accessible on the ground or in the air via Falcon Broadcast. Finally, warranty coverage will be extended to 12 years, although some components will be covered for only five years and paint and interior two years, Villa said.

Most Spacious Cabin in Class

Dassault envisions the 5X ushering in “a new generation of cabin comfort.” With that in mind, said Olivier Villa, Dassault senior v-p for civil aircraft, “We have worked a lot to define the volume and to look at how the 7X is used for long flights, to find the most comfortable and efficient way to use the new 5X.”

The cabin volume of the 5X is 1,770 cu ft compared with 1,550 cu ft on the 7X. The unfinished cabin interior height is 78 inches, which is four inches more than the 7X/900LX, and the maximum width is increased by 10 inches.

Dassault displayed a full-size mock-up at last month’s NBAA gathering. Its second mock-up will be designed with a more flamboyant interior. This one will be ready by year-end anddisplayed at EBACE next May in Geneva, among other events.

Villa believes that the windows are an important feature of the new aircraft, in that they will provide 30 percent more area than on the 7X. The cabin altitude will be only 3,900 feet at 41,000 feet, he said, and 6,000 feet at the airplane’s 51,000-foot ceiling. Passengers will also benefit from a 155 cu ft baggage compartment accessible in flight and a second unpressurized baggage compartment as well.

“We’ve been working for two years on a real breakthrough on what you’ll see in the cabin,” said Jim Hurley, Dassault Falcon v-p of sales. “The two most important things were cabin comfort and speed.” The cabin can sleep six and it features a skylight over the flight attendant working area/galley area.

Agnes Gervais, interior designer for Dassault, said, “It is a new and sleek design that gives the impression of space. The passenger will be wrapped in a cocoon.” Seats have also been completely redesigned with “an outer shell giving a feeling of protection.”


5X Suppliers

Dassault has chosen many of its usual suppliers for the 5X, although Héroux-Devtek got the landing-gear contract (Messier Dowty provides the 7X gear). The nosegear will have a “dual chamber, for comfort.”

UTC’s Hamilton Sundstrand is providing the electrically started APU (“easy start, all the time”), with Thales AES supplying the new starter-generator system.

“We worked a lot on the acoustic treatment to ensure the 5X is a good neighbor on the ground, too,” said Olivier Villa, Dassault senior v-p for civil aircraft. United Technologies will also supply the emergency ram air turbine, the scoop for which will be on the nose (unlike other Falcons).

UTC Aerospace Systems is supplying the air data system. Its architecture builds on the 7X’s system: four smart probes, associated with angle-of-attack sensors and “compliant with new requirements for icing systems.”

Eaton is supplying the hydraulics system (with non-corrosive Mil-H-83282 red-oil hydraulic fluid). The electrical system will be a 115-VAC network, which is “new to the Falcons,” said Villa. With the fuel system, he said, “We have ensured that fueling will be fast and accurate.” French company Zodiac Intertechnique is supplying the fuel and oxygen systems. Zodiac will also supply the flight-deck oxygen system, and the crew masks have a new “saver function,” said Villa.