Dassault (Chalet A14) is working steadily toward a certification date of 2016 for its much-anticipated super-midsize (SMS) Falcon business jet, Olivier Villa, Dassault's senior vice president civil aircraft, told AIN here at MEBA. Launched in January 2008, the twin-engine SMS is intended to be the successor to the out-of-production three-engine Falcon 50.
Initially the Rolls-Royce RB282 turbofan was chosen to power the SMS but that decision was reversed last year, reopening the competition. The Silvercrest engine being developed by France's Snecma group is a likely frontrunner for the long-awaited powerplant selection.
Although the program is ramping up to full-speed development, Villa remained coy about SMS details and industry partners. He said Dassault will likely not release much further information about the project for two to three years. To date, wind-tunnel tests have been completed for the basic shape and the outer mold line is fixed.
Currently the company has around 250 personnel working on the SMS at its design office in the Paris area, a number that will double between now and early next year as designers from Dassault's partners join the team. By the end of 2011, the joint team will establish the basic design, after which the constituent groups will return to their own design offices to complete detailed work.
SMS is being designed on a new system that significantly reduces risks in the design and development process. Dassault has been at the forefront of computer-aided design since the creation of its Catia software in the late 1970s. The company's most recent design, the Falcon 7X, was designed using a highly advanced product lifecycle management (PLM) system that created a digital mock-up of the aircraft on a single database. All designers shared the same database, which output information in different presentations tailored to the needs of the user. According to Villa, the system allowed the design to be "optimized for easy production and easy maintenance, and at the same time ensured that we met certification requirements."