EBACE Convention News

Dassault Unveils Falcon 8X, Serge Dassault Places First Order

 - May 19, 2014, 6:00 AM
Dassault executives celebrate the launch of their newest model, the Falcon 8X. Left to right: Laurent Dassault, vice chairman and CEO of Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault; Charles Edelstenne, retired chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation; Loïk Segalen, COO Dassault Aviation; John Rosanvallon, president and CEO of Dassault Falcon Jet; launch customer Serge Dassault, chairman and CEO Groupe Dassault; and Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO, Dassault Aviation. (Photo: Mark Wagner)

Only seven months after having unveiled the Falcon 5X, a cleansheet design, Dassault Aviation (Booth 7090) is here taking the wraps off the Falcon 8X, a significant upgrade over the existing Falcon 7X. A longer cabin will offer more layout possibilities, while a greater range, at 6,450 nm (a 500-nm increase), is making more city pairs possible between Asia, Europe and the Americas.

The Falcon 8X, which reportedly is selling for around $58 million (10 percent more than the Falcon 7X), is positioned as an addition at the top of the French manufacturer’s range. It has the longest cabin in the Falcon family: an extra 3.6 feet more than the Falcon 7X, bringing its total length to 42.6 feet, with a cabin volume measuring 1,765 cu ft.

While the increased length looks inconsequential, Olivier Villa, senior vice president civil aircraft, explained that it changes a lot: It allows installation of a large aft lavatory including a shower, a compliant crew rest area in the front section and a comfortable three-lounge cabin in between, he said. The stretch is a response to feedback from current Falcon 7X customers, Villa said. Three floor layouts are available, depending mainly on the length the customer specifies for the galley/crew rest area.

Windows have been added as well, with the total number likely to vary between 30 and 34, although the expected standard is 32–including four in the galley and crew rest area. The lavatory window can be equipped with an electrochromatic dimming system. Dassault claims the cabin is one of the brightest on the market. The ratio of window surface per passenger cabin surface is 0.16, equal to that of the Gulfstream G650, said the French company, although large-cabin Gulfstreams have much larger windows.

Other features include a 3,900-foot cabin altitude at FL410 and the same “whisper quiet” noise level as in the Falcon 7X.

In the cockpit, the pilots will find fly-by-wire controls and accompanying sidesticks. Dassault’s so-called digital flight control system (DFCS) has been optimized, while the weather radar will be the Honeywell RDR-4000. A “new generation” of flight management system will equip the 8X, part of the EASy 3 man-machine interface that Dassault has developed in-house. The company also will incorporate the head-up display (HUD) developed for the Falcon 5X. An industry first, it will merge EVS and SVS (infrared and synthetic) vision; a second HUD will be an option.

Falcon 7X-rated pilots will be offered a differences course in order to add the 8X to their ratings.

Ultra-long-range Class

Another need expressed by 7X customers, the 6,450-nm range ushers the Falcon 8X into the ultra-long-range category. It opens new city pairs for a Falcon–for example, Beijing and Shanghai are within reach from Los Angeles. Also, the 8X can fly nonstop from New York to Dubai, while Hong Kong to Johannesburg is possible as well. The better capability from Asian locations should help sales, hopes Dassault.

A 6,450-nm flight profile could start at sea level (ISA conditions) with a 5,900-foot balanced field length and, after 14 hours at Mach 0.80, a 2,150-foot landing distance–with eight passengers and three crewmembers and NBAA IFR reserves. Dassault engineers have managed to keep a 106-knot landing speed, very similar to the 7X’s 104 knots. Cruise speeds remain unchanged.

The greater range has been made possible by a 3,000-pound increase in fuel capacity. The additional fuel can be found mainly in fuselage tanks and, to a lesser extent, in the wing. To enable the longer cabin, two fuselage plugs have been added in the front and aft sections, and reinforced landing gear represents another structural modification.

The wing, which is more flexible, has been optimized for a better lift-to-drag ratio. New winglets further reduce the induced drag (the drag caused by wingtip vortices). The aircraft has been made less stable, which is good for aerodynamics as the horizontal stabilizer–with a different rigging angle–becomes a smaller source of drag. The relative instability is easily controlled with the DFCS, a Dassault engineer pointed out.

The wing has been made lighter, as well. As a result of the experience gathered on the Falcon7X wing, design engineers were able to reduce wing weight by approximately 600 pounds. “This structural optimization offsets the added weight from the longer fuselage,” Villa pointed out. The wing area remains unchanged.

PW307D Powerplant

Pratt & Whitney Canada has developed a new PW307 version, the PW307D, for the Falcon 8X trijet. The PW307D provides 6,725 pounds of thrust at sea level, at ISA+17C conditions. This represents a 5-percent increase over the 7X’s PW307A.

At the same time, specific fuel consumption has been cut thanks to improved fan seals, impeller clearances and exhaust mixer, as well as a new Fadec.

Engine certification is expected in March next year with preproduction engines due to be delivered to Dassault shortly. The three PW307Ds that will power the 8X on its first flight have already flown on Pratt & Whitney Canada’s Boeing 747 flying testbed.

Manufacturing of the first Falcon 8X airframe is well under way. AIN was shown the first complete fuselage at the Biarritz factory and the first wing at Dassault’s Bordeaux Martignas production facility. The latter subassembly is to be delivered to the final assembly line, in Bordeaux Mérignac, in June. Ground testing of the first complete aircraft will begin next fall.

Mid-2016 Certification

The 8X’s first flight is planned for the first quarter of 2015 and certification is expected by mid-2016, with deliveries beginning in the second half of that year. Asked about the proximity to the development of the Falcon 5X (due to fly before mid-2015 and enter service in the first half of 2017), Villa said this was not a strategic decision. “It came as a consequence of progress in preliminary designs; that’s the way it happened and we could do it,” he said. The two development programs running in parallel are an unprecedented investment for the company, he noted.

Direct operating costs (DOC) are estimated at $4,075 per hour, using the Conklin & de Decker method. This compares very favorably to the Gulfstream G550 and Bombardier Global 6000, Villa said. A key factor in the DOC is maintenance–the basic visit interval (previously two months) is now not necessary, so time between inspections becomes 800 hours flight time or one year, whichever occurs first.

The dispatch rate at entry into service is targeted to equal the average of the mature Falcon fleet, at 99.7 percent.

Over six years, at 600 flight hours per year, Dassault claims the Falcon 8X will be much cheaper to own than its competitors. The OEM’s calculations result in $22 million, $30.5 million and $33 million, respectively, for the 8X, the G550 and the Global 6000. A higher resale value accounts for part of the difference, said the company.

Sales expectations are high, as Dassault plans to ramp up production to 33 per year.

The Falcon 8X–by the numbers

Mtow: 73,000 lb

Wingspan: 86.2 feet

Cabin length: 42.6 feet

Range: 6,450 nm