Dassault’s Falcon 7X programme is bursting with ‘firsts’. Last month it became the first business jet to get joint full EASA and FAA certification. Liz Moscrop reports
It was quite a sight. The entire workforce spilled out of Dassault’s Bordeaux facility on a gloomy April day to watch the Falcon 7X fly overhead, prior to receiving its simultaneous full type certification from both the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
In another first, because of the way in which it was conceived and produced, the 7X became the first new aircraft allowed to have official 3D documentation to support it.
Pilot training started on the same day at CAE’s Morristown facility and the company opened a new 24/7-support centre at Le Bourget. Pilots can also train in Europe from August onwards at CAE’s Burgess Hill centre. The jet is expected to enter service by the end of May and s/n 3 is on display in the static park.
Patrick Goudou, executive director of EASA, and John Hickey, director, aircraft certification service for the FAA, signed the type certificates together. The dual certification is a milestone, particularly because of the huge transatlantic cooperation needed to certify the technology used to create the aircraft. As Charles Edelstenne, Dassault’s chairman and ceo said, “many nationalities have contributed their experience to such a project. Our union symbolises the success of this multinational cooperation.” He went on to praise the efforts of the EASA and FAA teams. “Mr Goudou we are very impressed by your cooperation – and Mr Hickey’s expertise. Together we have accomplished an enormous workload. The mutual confidence and respect of our teams made this possible and I congratulate you.”
The ground breaking tri-jet is the first aircraft to be designed and built with virtual product lifecycle management (PLM) tools, halving the time it took to build the first flight-test ready 7X, compared to earlier Falcons. The aircraft is also the first fly-by-wire (FBW) business jet, resulting in very stable flying characteristics. Hickey praised the jet for its “exceptional handling qualities.” Powered by three Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307A engines, the 7X comes with an upgraded version of Dassault’s EASy flight deck, providing instant in-flight access to the multitude of technical information on board. It has a range of 5,950nm flying with eight passengers at Mach 80. At 39ft, the cabin is 20% longer than the Falcon 900 series with a standard configuration of 12 seats, but the aircraft can ferry up to 19 with a crew of three. According to the OEM, it is the most fuel-efficient aircraft in its class. Alain Bellemare, president P&WC agreed, saying that the 7X sported “our greenest engine”. He talked about the cooperation between the Canadian and French teams. “It’s a very important development for Dassault and P&W Canada. Even our engineers have traded beer and pizza for French cuisine and Bordeaux wine – and speaking as an engine guy, I can tell you, the more engine the better…over the last ten years we focused on developing greener engines and have reduced hydrocarbon emissions by over 30%.”
Dassault predicts direct operating costs will be low compared to its main rivals, largely due to this fuel efficiency. Other savings come in the form of extended maintenance check intervals, which are 50% longer than for previous Falcon models.
The US$41m 7X is Dassault’s most popular launch product. Over 160 aircraft have been sold across 33 countries so far, stretching into four years of production. There are currently seven in completion, with 15 slated for delivery through 2007, eventually ramping up to 40 per year. Serial number five will be the first European customer delivery. To cater for such an ambitious program, components are manufactured all over the world with final assembly taking place at Mérignac. Aircraft are then flown to the company’s plant in Little Rock, Arkansas for completions and painting. Little Rock has built four hangars (99,000sqft) dedicated solely to the 7X.
Customer support from the Le Bourget and Teterboro centres will be free throughout the life of the aircraft, although there will be charges for document revisions. Both environments will be totally paperless. The company says it is also ramping up existing spares and service centres to cater for demand, with more than 100 staff in training programmes. Serge Dassault (who will soon take delivery of s/n 4) was obviously delighted at the ceremony and said; “this aircraft shows the future is very rosy for us.”
Source: Flight Daily News