Manufacturer is confident assembly of first aircraft will be achieved in record time

Technology introduced by Dassault Aviation to speed the design-to-manufacture process for its new Falcon 7X will result in assembly of the first aircraft being carried out in "record time", says the company.

Delivery of the fuselage, wing and other components from factories around France to Dassault's Merignac plant in July will lead to completion of the initial airframe in October, a timescale which Dassault president Charles Edelstenne says "has never been done before. It is possible because we've made huge advances in the design and production processes."

Design of the 7X, as with other Dassault aircraft, uses the Dassault Système Catia V5 computer-aided design system and its Enovia and Delmia software to manage, respectively, product technical data, and manufacturing and maintenance. A similar system has been sold to Boeing for the design and manufacture of the 7E7.

The first flight of the 7X is set for mid-2005. Dassault says that more than 39 aircraft have been ordered to date, with delivery of the first set for late 2006.

The aircraft will feature the first fly-by-wire flight control system on a business jet, a highly swept wing with 10% higher lift-to-drag ratio compared with that of the Falcon 900 it will eventually replace, and a Mach 0.9 cruising speed. The cabin is stretched by 2.4m (7.9ft), bringing a 20% increase in internal volume over the 900.

But the company says the real revolution is in the system for designing the 7X using virtual reality techniques. Dassault has more than 20 major risk-sharing partners on the programme, all of which are connected electronically to create a "virtual design plateau" based at the company's Saint Cloud, Paris headquarters. This arrangement, which includes a three-dimensional life-sized mock-up of the aircraft presented to designers in a 30-seat "cinema", has been a major factor in slashing the time and cost involved in completing the first aircraft, says the company.

Source: Flight International