It’s said that the margin of victory in life can sometimes be measured in inches. Dassault believes that another 43 inches (109 cm) of fuselage length will help make a big difference when it comes to the Falcon 8X. Along with a string of technological advancements, the long-range, large-cabin trijet, which the company began delivering to customers last year, boasts a longer passenger cabin than its 7X predecessor. That translates into 7 percent more volume—enough to allow for a longer galley, more legroom between seats, or an optional steam shower in the aft lavatory.
The added inches—and the long list of other enhancements—push the price of the 8X to nearly $60 million, making it about 10 percent more expensive than the wildly successful 7X. But because the 8X offers a lot more than just extra room, Dassault believes that a ready audience exists for the airplane: some of the more than 200 owners of the 7X and perhaps those waiting—and waiting—for the under-development Bombardier Globals as well as for the Gulfstream G650ER, which is in production but has a long backorder list. The Globals are even more expensive than the 8X, at $71 million and $75 million, respectively, as is the Gulfstream, which runs upwards of $66 million.
Dassault might be right about the market for the 8X, which offers a quick way for owners of earlier models to take a step up. The aircraft has a range of 6,450 nautical miles (with eight passengers and three crew, at Mach 0.8), 500 more than the 7X. The extra range—courtesy of an additional center-fuselage fuel tank and a lighter, redesigned wing—enables the 8X to fly nonstop from Hong Kong to London, Paris to Singapore, and Beijing to Los Angeles. The reworked wing also keeps the 8X competitive on short runways; it needs 6,000 feet to take off fully loaded but can stop in 2,150 feet.
The Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307D engines have been optimized to offer 6,725 pounds of thrust each, with a 5 percent thrust increase and lower emissions. Dassault claims the 8X is more fuel-efficient than other offerings in this class.
And you get all manner of other goodies that weren’t available when the 7X hit the market back in 2007. Things like:
• A cabin altitude of just 3,900 feet at a cruising altitude of 41,000 feet, ensuring that you arrive at your destination not only freshly showered but alert and refreshed. (The 8X has a service ceiling of 51,000 feet.)
• More cabin layouts. Thanks to nearly 1,700 cubic feet of space, you can choose from more than 30 layouts in three zone configurations. Possibilities include turning the aft cabin into a media lounge with oversized divans and a pop-up monitor or making it a separate stateroom with a sliding pocket door. Mid cabin there’s also space to install a six-seat conference grouping.
• More cabin windows. You get four more than on the 7X for a total of 33. That means natural light in more places.
• A choice of three galley layouts, and galleys that are 25 percent larger overall. The added space means you can accommodate the larger chillers and refrigerators envisioned to service passengers on what can be 14-hour flights.
• New cabin seats that are electrically assisted and eliminate the traditional mechanical cabling system for greater reliability. Full electric function seats also will be available.
• A new high-definition entertainment system.
• New, color-adjustable LED lighting.
• A new system that increases cabin humidity by at least 20 percent.
• A redesigned convertible crew rest area opposite the galley that converts into a closet when not in use.
• An optional vacuum lavatory in the forward cabin. (You really want this. Think odor abatement next to the galley. Enough said.) The vacuum lav in the aft cabin remains standard.
• A better cockpit. It incorporates super-comfy seats and takes styling cues from Dassault’s new 5X twinjet. And it features the new EASy 3 glass-panel digital avionics, which are built around the Honeywell Primus Epic System and the Elbit head-up display, which combines enhanced and synthetic vision.
The 8X builds on the features and flight characteristics that have made the 7X popular, adding increased utility and luxury. Dassault is so convinced that this is a winning formula that it already is expanding its completion facility in Little Rock, Arkansas. That seems like a prudent move, because while the new airplane may be only a few feet longer than its predecessor, it really is miles apart.