At 2:45 p.m. local time today, Dassault Aviation test pilots Bruno Ferry and Fabrice Valette pushed the throttles forward and lifted off on the first flight of Falcon 6X S/N 1 from France’s Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport. The inaugural flight launched the flight test phase of the widebody 6X, Dassault’s newest fly-by-wire flagship. Certification and entry into service are planned for 2022.
Ferry—in the left seat—and Vallette logged about two hours and 30 minutes during the flight, testing handling qualities, engine response, and key systems while climbing to 40,000 feet and reaching Mach 0.80.
“The 6X flew exactly as predicted by our models,” said Ferry. “From a pilot’s perspective, it flies like a Falcon, which is to say with perfect precise handling in all phases of flight. Fabrice and I are honored to have made the latest first flight in another fantastic Falcon.”
“Today’s flight is another milestone in Dassault history, made all the more satisfying by the remarkable efforts of the entire Dassault organization and its partners over the challenging past year,” said Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier. “We dedicate today’s achievement to Olivier Dassault, who died tragically on Sunday. Olivier was a Falcon pilot who perfectly embodied his family’s boundless passion for aviation.”
Following today’s first flight, S/N 1 will fly to Dassault’s flight test center at Istres-Le Tubé Air Base near Marseilles to continue the flight-test program. It will be joined by S/Ns 2 and 3 “in the coming months,” according to Dassault.
The twin-engine 6X is powered by Pratt & Whitney's PW812D ("D" for Dassault), with each engine delivering 13,500 pounds of thrust. The PW812D features a 44-inch single-piece fan, a 4.5:1 to 5:1 bypass ratio, and the low-emissions Talon X combustor.
With a cabin height of 78 inches (1.98 meters) and a width of 102 inches, the 6X has the largest cross-section dimensions of any purpose-built business jet. The cabin can accommodate up to 16 passengers in three lounge areas. Compared with earlier Falcons, the 6X’s aisle is five inches wider. Baggage is accommodated in a 155-cu-ft compartment inside the pressurized vessel, plus there is another unpressurized compartment of 76 cu ft.
The maximum range of the 6X carrying eight passengers and three crew at long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.80 is 5,500 nm and at Mach 0.85 that drops to 5,100 nm. Mmo is Mach 0.90 and the maximum altitude is 51,000 feet.
A new feature in the 6X design facilitates short-field performance—the fly-by-wire flight control system’s use of electrically driven flaps and flaperons. This allows the flaperons to act as both flaps (increasing lift) and ailerons (roll control) and are a first for a business jet. With the control surfaces working in tandem, lift-over-drag augmentation improves steep approach visibility, control, and comfort and enables a low approach speed of 109 ktas at typical landing weights. Takeoff distance at sea level and mtow is 5,480 feet.
The 6X flight deck features the latest version of the Honeywell Epic-based EASy III avionics, with four 14.1-inch displays, Honeywell’s IntuVue RDR-4000 radar, and the FalconEye head-up display with combined vision system (overlaid synthetic vision and enhanced vision system imagery). FalconEye is standard in the 6X and was developed with Elbit Systems.
To enhance 6X maintenance, the jet is the first Falcon fitted with the FalconScan advanced diagnostic system. FalconScan “monitors and reports on 100,000 maintenance parameters,” according to Dassault.