Falcon 5X Takes Shape
Dassault’s Falcon 5X program is progressing on time for a maiden flight in the first half of 2015. Late in April, AIN was invited to see the first wing at Dassault’s Bordeaux Martignas factory and the first complete fuselage at the manufacturer’s Biarritz production facility. The aircraft will complete assembly and begin ground tests this summer.
Once pressure-tested, the fuselage will be ready for shipment to the Bordeaux Mérignac plant for aircraft final assembly. Fuselage delivery is expected in the summer. The wing is due to arrive at Mérignac at the same time as the fuselage.
In the fuselage factory, digital 3-D design sometimes translates into spectacular production tooling. For example, the aft section is just laid down on a tripod. There is no need for a jig, a bulky piece of equipment.
In the wing manufacturing facility, a new layout provides the space needed for the planned production rate. For example, four jigs are used instead of eight–the new arrangement uses horizontal and vertical jigs, whereas the previous one (still in use for the 7X) is only vertical. Robotization has taken a further step, as machines put fasteners in place on the 5X’s wing.
System suppliers have begun deliveries to Dassault. For example, Héroux-Devtek has delivered the landing gear, and tests on the gear have been completed. Tests on other systems including avionics, fuel and air conditioning, have begun.
The Snecma Silvercrest engines will soon start podding operations in Toulouse and are due to arrive in Mérignac later this summer. The French engine manufacturer is also gearing up for production with its assembly line already up and running in Villaroche, just south of Paris. Snecma is responsible for the integrated powerplant system, including the nacelle, thrust reversers and mounting systems. The Silvercrest will be flight-tested on a modified Gulfstream II.
“We expect to have the aircraft fully assembled and ready for testing by the summer, right on schedule,” said Olivier Villa, senior v-p for Dassault’s civil aircraft division.
An industry first, the head-up display (HUD) will combine EVS and SVS (infrared and synthetic vision). It has begun flight tests on an undisclosed aircraft in Istres, southern France. So far, HUD trials are Elbit’s responsibility, with satisfactory results reported for sensors and image quality, although EVS-SVS fusion has not been evaluated yet, according to Dassault officials.
Here at EBACE, Dassault is exhibiting a new Falcon 5X cabin mockup (Booth 6634). It is slightly different from the one it displayed for the unveiling at the NBAA show some seven months ago. For example, the galley’s ergonomics have been improved as a result of flight attendant input, designer Agnès Gervais told AIN. In the passenger cabin, shapes and colors are more dynamic, she said. Asked how a designer can make the most of a wider cabin, she answered that this could be achieved simply by leaving more space, as opposed to adding furniture.
Also, although Dassault has been touting the use of digital mockups (it is, after all, the leading software provider through Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA suite), actual mock-ups are very useful. “With virtual reality, you can’t assess the [feel] of objects,” Gervais said.
The 5,200-nm Falcon 5X will feature the largest cabin cross section in the industry. Entry into service is anticipated in the middle of 2017.