Farnborough Air Show

First Dassault Falcon 7X will go to Serge himself

 - November 27, 2006, 10:57 AM

The first Dassault Falcon 7X is earmarked for delivery to the French group’s patriach Serge Dassault at the beginning of April 2007 in time for his 82nd birthday. The French senator will take delivery of the first of the “more than 85” trijets currently on order–not on behalf of Dassault Aviation, the group of which he is the main shareholder–but as a private customer.

The very long range, widebody 7X, powered by three Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307A turbofan engines, is the first aircraft to be created digitally in every detail with Dassault’s product lifecycle management systems and software. The new model, which can hold up to 19 passengers, is the world’s first business jet to operate with the pilot-friendly fly-by-wire controls and Honeywell Primus Epic-based EASy flight deck.

Jean-Louis Cuvillier, vice president of Falcon programs in development, told Aviation International News that the 7X is heading toward completing its test program by the end of 2006 with certification targeted for the end of February 2007. He said the delay in the certification process is due to design changes to the aircraft, including installing a bleed-air pre-cooler on each engine to reduce operating temperatures to 200-degrees C from 330-degrees C.

The main performance improvements being tested and validated are in range and payload, with increased maximum take-off weight, greater engine thrust, bigger fuel capacity and the addition of winglets–a first for a Falcon jet. Cuvillier said that all the changes on the 7X, which sells at $40 million for the basic version, would be at no extra cost to clients. The next earliest delivery date is 2010.

The 7X’s non-stop range has been increased from an original 5,700 nm to 5,950 nm carrying eight passengers at Mach 0.80. Maximum take-off weight is increased by 10 percent from 63,700 pounds to 69,000 pounds. To accommodate the increased mtow, the thrust of each of the three P&W Canada 307A engines has been boosted from an initial 6,100 pounds at ISA +18-degrees C at sea level to 6,400 pounds.

Dassault has increased the trijet’s fuel capacity to take account of the weight of some parts of the aircraft’s structure, which are heavier than in the original design, and to better enable it to fly 10 hours non-stop with a big payload. The total fuel capacity is now 3,940 pounds with new fuel tanks in the forward section carrying 1,760 pounds of jet-A, similar to the Falcon 2000EX. Payload with full fuel has been increased by 50 percent to 2,988 pounds. Additional fuel tanks have been installed in the forward section. The basic operating weight has been increased from 33,100 pounds to 34,272 pounds.

According to Cuvillier, the approach speed at a typical 37,100 pounds landing weight is a “very low and safe 104 ktas.”  Take-off distance is reduced to 5,200 feet at 63,000 pounds mtow.

Jacques Delage, v-p and general manager of Dassault’s wing production facility at Martingas, said that the shape of the new winglet avoids a bigger load on the wing rather than increasing its length. The 7X’s new wing, which is thinner than on previous Falcons, gives a 30-percent improvement in aerodynamic efficiency (lift/drag ratio). In addition, the small secondary rudder has been eliminated and the rear of the fuselage modified to optimize the aerodynamics of the lower fin.

The fine tuning of the systems and installation of fly-by-wire 2.1 will take place at Saint Cloud before the end of this month. Meanwhile, this summer sees the end of the low speed performance test, the flooded runway campaign and hot weather tests. The final certification phase 3 starts in September and is due to be completed in November.

The 7X production rate will increase to three per month during 2007 with S/N 50 scheduled by the end of 2007. Dassault declined to reveal the exact state of its 7X order book but did not deny that “more than 85” are presently on order.

As of late June, the four test aircraft together had made 261 flights totaling 805.55 flight hours.