By Kate Sarsfield in Bordeaux

Dassault Aviation has completed Falcon 7X contaminated runway tests, including water ingestion trials, at Cranfield in the UK and is scheduled to begin hot weather trials next month in Biarritz, southern France as certification of the ultra-long-range aircraft nears its final phase. The fourth and last Falcon 7X test aircraft flew earlier this month at Dassault’s flight-test centre in Istres, near Marseilles.

© Avom Productions / Dassault

The Dassault Falcon 7X has successfully completed water ingestion trials

The four aircraft in the 1,200h flight-test programme, scheduled to end in November, have chalked up over 800h to date. European and US certification is scheduled for early 2007, three months later than originally planned with first deliveries set for April. The delay is attributed to the decision late last year by the French manufacturer to increase the aircraft’s range to 11,100km (6,000nm), by installing drag-reducing winglets and a new fuel tank. Dassault says this stategy has paid off as all the customers affected by the delay “are happy to wait for the improved 7X”.

The fourth Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307A-powered aircraft, which will be used by company patriach Serge Dassault and as a demonstrator, is the only aircraft equipped with the extra fuel tank forward of the wing centre section that has increased fuel capacity by 800kg (1,760lb) to 14,500kg, Dassault says. The first 15 production models will have to be retrofitted to accommodate the tank.

On the back of an order-book of over 80 aircraft, Dassault is ramping up production of its $40 million fly-by-wire aircraft to three a month by the end of next year. Forty aircraft are in production and Dassault plans to cut the build cycle from 80 to 60 days within six months.

To support its 7X customer base Dassault is strengthening its servicing network and has increased the number of field service engineers, designed to assist Falcon operators, from 10 to 54.

“We expect to achieve a 99.8% dispatch reliability for the 7X within a year of service entry,” Dassault says. Dassault plans to establish a distribution centre in China, which will house around $100 million of Falcon spare parts.

Source: Flight International