Dassault Aviation launched its long-awaited, all-new Falcon 5X at last month’s NBAA show in Las Vegas. The long-range, advanced technology model should provoke strong interest among the growing Middle Eastern jet set.
The twin-engine, Mach 0.8, fly-by-wire business jet is powered by Snecma’s new Silvercrest engine, which, along with a new wing and flight controls, is a big part of the new aircraft’s leap forward in performance. The 5X is scheduled to fly before mid-2015, with certification and entry into service following in the first half of 2017.
The first batch of 40 standardized 5Xs will be fully equipped and priced at $45 million in today’s dollars, with Dassault (Stands 650/1445) indicating that it had taken some initial orders during the NBAA show. Three development aircraft will be built and aircraft number-one will be retained for future development work.
The 5X likely will launch a new family of jets and could ultimately be grown 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.
To this end, the 5X features a new wide cabin. “The key feature will be a new generation of cabin comfort, with a fuselage diameter of 2.7 meters or 8.86 feet,” said John Rosanvallon, president and CEO of Dassault Falcon Jet. The $50 million-plus 7X for now remains Dassault’s longest-range Falcon, and the three-engine jet has notched almost 200 deliveries. The 7X has a cabin diameter of 2.5 meters or 8.20 feet. The company’s existing twin is the $26 million Falcon 2000 series, of which almost 600 have been delivered.
Villa said that although for the 5X design there is a “special focus on the availability of the aircraft” (that is, reliability), there is also a range of technological enhancements, including a new wing, which is “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.
Maximum takeoff weight is 69,600 pounds and the max-landing-weight to max-takeoff-weight ratio is 95 percent, said Villa. “So you can land almost straight away to pick up passengers, then go on a very long mission–typically 5,200 nautical miles or 11 hours 30 minutes–off a 5,000-foot runway, landing at 105 knots.” High-speed cruise will mean less range, with Mmo (maximum operating Mach number) being Mach 0.9.
“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 [digital flight control system] 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 mockup. We are using Catia version 6, which brings a 4-D mockup, with simulation capability for all the systems.”
The wing, he said, “is very sophisticated.” It features three slats, “very efficient winglets, a new curved trailing edge and flaperons, which so far we’ve [used] 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 is very 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 global 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 the 7X,” said Dupré, with normal laws, reverting to alternate laws, reverting to direct laws as the minimum required for aircraft control.
In the cockpit, there is a 32-percent increase in window area compared to the 7X, and the cockpit 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 also will supply its RDR-4000 3-D digital weather radar. Dual EFBs are integrated, one on each side of the instrument panel. The plan is to have dual Elbit head-up displays (HUDs); 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, with 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 (zero height and zero visibility).
A new engine throttle control unit, supplied by Ratier-Figeac, offers another innovative feature: movable or mobile detents (employing 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.”
Dassault describes the 5X as “the safest aircraft, with improved minimum control speed; better maneuverability and aircraft protection with DFCS on primary and secondary flight controls; improved pilot visibility during approach; robustness and manufacturing quality of the structure; and unique fuel tank pressurization protection.”
The company also 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 believes the 5X will fly 1,500 nm on 10,000 pounds of fuel, whereas the Global 5000 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),” claimed the French company.
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, which can then be accessed on the ground or in the air via Falcon Broadcast. Finally, warranty coverage will be improved to 12 years, although some components will be on a five-year basis and paint and interior two years, Villa said.