Dassault Rolls Out First Falcon 5X; Set To Fly This Summer

 - June 2, 2015, 11:37 AM
Dassault rolled out the first Falcon 5X prototype on June 2, 2015, at its Bordeaux, France factory before an audience of about 500 people. First flight of the 5,200-nm twinjet is pegged for summer 2015. (Photo: Dassault Falcon)

Dassault unveiled the first prototype of the 5,200-nm Falcon 5X twinjet at its factory in Bordeaux, southwest France, on June 2 and is preparing to fly the aircraft this summer. Because of the development delay announced in March, Snecma now expects the Silvercrest engine will be certified in the summer of next year. Early last month, Dassault CEO Eric Trappier said, “We are targeting 2017 for certification, and then 2017 or early 2018 for entry into service.” That schedule would see deliveries starting about six months later than originally anticipated.

The 5X cockpit features the first-ever combined vision system, in which supplier Elbit merges synthetic and “real world” vision for enhanced situational awareness in poor weather and at night. Sensors scan the environment ahead in infrared, visible light and “almost radar” wavelengths, according to a Dassault executive. The multispectral array of sensors has a field of view of 35 degrees horizontal by 26.5 degrees vertical, and the field of view for the optional pair of head-up displays (HUD) is 40 degrees by 30 degrees. The pilot can set the contrast to adapt to various kinds of runway lighting. The system has been flying on another Falcon type at Dassault’s flight-test center in Istres, in southeastern France.

The 5X’s cockpit windows are 30 percent larger than those on previous Falcons. “This provides enhanced visibility on a visual approach and allows you to better anticipate your flight path,” chief test pilot Philippe Deleume told AIN. Flight control surfaces include flaperons, combining flaps and ailerons. On a steep approach, they allow the pilot to fly the attitude independent from the slope angle, explained Olivier Villa, Dassault’s senior v-p for civil aircraft.

The curved trailing edge will increase buffet margin by 15 percent without raising weight or reducing flexibility, according to the manufacturer. The curved shape is also said to deliver a better lift-to-drag ratio than a trailing edge with a broken line. Another consideration in designing the trailing edge has been to tailor the airflow to a twin-engine configuration.

Maintenance Enhancements

The Falcon 5X will feature an onboard real-time self-diagnosis system dubbed FalconScan. Previous Falcons used onboard diagnostics to monitor hundreds of parameters; the 5X’s system will monitor more than 10,000 different readings.

Lacking only telemetry, FalconScan is not far removed from a complete array of flight-test instruments. “We used to identify potential failure scenarios and monitored parameters accordingly. Now we follow every parameter, making it easier for us to understand a new problem,” Villa said. FalconScan will be used most often by maintenance technicians, for preventive and corrective maintenance, but pilots might also find it useful during a stopover where there is no maintenance facility, according to the company. FalconScan is in addition to FalconBroadcast, which provides real-time notification of inflight events and maintenance status via satellite.

During the flight-test campaign, approximately 1,000 analog parameters will be followed, along with “dozens of thousands of digital parameters,” explained David Dugail, the engineer in charge of flight-test equipment for the Falcon 5X. Synthetic views will be displayed for the crew.

Thanks to advances in flight-test equipment, it will be easier for the pilots to perform some maneuvers accurately. “We can more easily follow a planned flight path accurate to four inches,” Dugail said. This is useful when gathering acoustic data for the cabin interior, for which requirements are stringent, he explained. Separately, a lot of instrumentation relates to system reliability testing. Three aircraft will participate in the flight-test program.

Dassault CEO Trappier lays claim to the 5X having the largest cabin cross section of any purpose-built business jet. Although its 8.5-foot width is the same as the G650’s, the French aircraft trumps the Gulfstream in height by one inch. Dassault wants to make the most of this cabin space and is looking beyond merely wider seats. For example, “working with diagonal lines, you can install extra-wide TV screens,” a salesman explained to AIN. A double bed–as opposed to a foldable bed–can be installed permanently and still leave a passageway by its side, as required for certification, he pointed out.

CAE is building simulators (two initially) for pilot training, CEO Marc Parent told AIN. They will use 7000XR technology, which recently entered service on an Airbus A320 simulator. The level-D devices will use a full-electric motion system.

The Falcon 5X has a projected range of 5,200 nm at Mach 0.80 and a top speed of Mach 0.90.