At today’s annual financial analyst meeting, Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Charles Edelstenne announced record results for the second consecutive year for Falcons. Last year the company recorded firm sales for 158 jets, including an order from NetJets Europe for 24 Falcon 7X trijets. “Driven by growth outside North America, the worldwide market for business jets remained impressive in 2006,” said Edelstenne.
While all eyes were on the Falcon 7X last month for its public unveiling, Dassault’s new Falcon 900DX was quietly making its way down the assembly line in Mérignac, France. The $31.95 million trijet, launched last May at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, replaces the Falcon 900C. First flight is scheduled for June, with certification and deliveries expected by year-end.
With the Falcon 7X, French-based manufacturer Dassault has cut in half the time it takes it to build the first example of a new top-end business jet. The company is using digital design and construction tools to streamline the assembly process. At the same time, lower development and production costs have a favorable effect on the price of the 5,700-nm trijet, Dassault claims.
Dassault last month spectacularly bridged the gap between virtual reality and reality when it unveiled the first assembled Falcon 7X business jet at its Bordeaux Mérignac factory in southwest France. The February 15 event highlighted the fully digital design and manufacturing processes (see page 50) of the 5,700-nm-range trijet.
Dassault has locked in its decision to push the Falcon 7X’s range from 5,700 nm to 6,000 nm and boost payload by 50 percent. The design improvements to the trijet include the installation of additional fuel tanks, an increase in thrust for the Pratt & Whitney Canada 307A turbofans and incorporation of Dassault-designed winglets. After wind-tunnel testing early in the 7X program, winglets were rejected.
Dassault’s new Falcon 7X, which is making its public debut this week in Paris, will fly in this morning’s aerial display scheduled during the official visit of French President Jacques Chirac. The rest of the week the three-engine business jet will grace Dassault’s static display, but won’t fly again until Saturday for the general public and the airshow visit by French prime minister Dominique de Villepin.
When the Dassault Falcon 7X arrived at Le Bourget on Friday to begin its debut appearance at the Paris Air Show, pilots Yves Kerherve’ and Philippe Deleume taxied the new trijet not to the airshow static display right away but to the ramp of Dassault Falcon Services (DFS), just to the northeast of the air and space museum.
The Dassault Falcon 7X business jet last Tuesday flew for the 100th time. It took off from the French manufacturer’s flight test center in Istres, in the southeast of the country. Meanwhile, Dassault has released the first photo showing the 5,700-nm-range trijet fitted with winglets. They are part of design enhancements that are under test and could boost range to 6,000 nm.
The Dassault Falcon 7X business jet has passed the 70-sale bar, John Rosanvallon, president of Dassault Falcon Jet, told Aviation International News yesterday here at the Dubai airshow.
Negotiations are under way for more orders in the region. Separately, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia-based National Air Services (NAS) is thinking of buying some Falcon 2000EXs for its NetJets Middle East operation.
The news that Snecma is working on the new 8,500- to 10,000-pound thrust SM-X engine to power new large business jets and regional airliners hasn’t shaken Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC). Nor has last month’s suspension by Bombardier of the 110- to 135-seat C-Series twinjet program.