Critical design review of Dassault’s Falcon 6X was completed this month and the aircraft is on track for entry into service in 2022, the company said on Monday at EBACE 2019. Meanwhile, manufacture of major parts has commenced, with assembly of the first aircraft expected early next year and first flight in 2021.
“Completing the design review this month and releasing the aircraft to the manufacturing process is a significant milestone,” said Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier. “It demonstrates our confidence in the airframe and engine design as well as in the collaborative process we have put in place with our global partners.”
Parts currently in production at Dassault and partner plants include the fuselage frame, skin panels, and wings. Fuselage panels are produced at Dassault’s facility in Argenteuil, France, near Paris, and wing panels at Seclin, near Lille. Dassault is using both a physical and a virtual plateau development process.
During the physical plateau phase, which took place in 2018, engineers from Dassault and 20 main suppliers worked together at the company’s Saint Cloud, France headquarters, where they focused on aligning the interfaces between major aircraft systems. Since the start of the virtual plateau phase, which began in the fall, development teams have been working from their home locations and sharing a central digital mock-up of the aircraft design in real time. Advanced virtual reality (VR) tools allow them to closely examine system and component placement from perspectives not available on previous aircraft programs.
At some production sites, including Mérignac, near Bordeaux, where final assembly will take place, and Little Rock, Arkansas, which will handle cabin completions, engineers and manufacturing teams are now working together in satellite plateaus, preparing for work to come in subsequent production and testing phases.
The cabin, at 8 foot 6 inches wide and 6 foot 6 inches high, has the largest cross-section of a business jet designed for the purpose, and will incorporate robust noise-suppression systems, based on experience with the Falcon 8X. The all-new cockpit will feature a third-generation EASy III flight deck with Dassault’s FalconEye Combined Vision System—the first head-up display to combine enhanced and synthetic vision capabilities, according to Dassault—already certified to 100-foot reduced minima on the Falcon 8X, 900LX, and 2000 series. A FalconSphere II electronic flight bag is standard.
With a maximum range of 5,500 nm (10,186 km), the 6X will be capable of flying directly from Los Angeles to London, São Paulo to Chicago, or Paris to Beijing at Mach 0.85. Its ultra-efficient wing minimizes the impact of turbulence and a next-generation digital flight control system controls all moving surfaces. They include flaperons, which considerably improves control during approach, especially on steep descents, Dassault said.
The wing, as on previous Falcon models, is optimized for both high- and low-speed performance; leading-edge slats and trailing-edge flaps yield low takeoff and approach speeds, which will permit the 6X, with partial fuel loads, to access airports with runways of less than 3,000 feet, as well as operate at airports requiring steep approaches such as London City and Lugano, Italy.
The 13,000- to 14,000-pound thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) PurePower PW812D engines that will power the new Falcon have accumulated nearly 1,000 hours of runtime on the Pratt test bench in Montreal, Canada, using five development engines. Almost all high-risk engine tests have been completed, Trappier said. PWC has accumulated more than 13,000 hours to date on the variant of the geared turbofan (GTF) core at the heart of the Dassault-specific PW812D. The GTF core is shared by 16 different engine applications that have amassed more than 585,000 flight hours in all.