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Falcon 7X completes its first flight

Dassault's ultra-long-range business jet undergoes variety of system tests during 1h 36min in air over Bordeaux

Dassault Aviation flew its Falcon 7X ultra-long-range business jet for the first time on 5 May from its Bordeaux M...rignac facility, kick-starting the aircraft's 15-month, 1,200h flight test programme.

During its 1h 36min flight, aircraft serial number (S/N) 1, registration F-WFBW, climbed to 10,000ft (3,000m) where various tests of the hydraulic, fuel, air data and landing gear extraction/retraction systems were performed. The three-engined 7X then climbed to 25,000ft to conduct acceleration/deceleration tests and basic autopilot and auto-throttle operations, says Dassault.

Further testing is being conducted at the Dassault Test Centre in Istres, where the second test aircraft is expected to arrive before the end of June. The third aircraft is due to join the programme before the end of September, outfitted with a full interior. Dassault says S/N 3 will be used for long-range and endurance tests and interior sound level validation. The airframer aims to achieve a 52dB sound level in the cabin – 4dB lower than its Falcon stablemates.

Dassault's flagship 7X is the first business jet to use fly-by wire technology, says Dassault, and is the first Falcon in about 30 years to have a newly designed wing.

The high-transonic wing, coupled with the 7X's three 6,100lb thrust (27kN) Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307A turbofans, will enable the $37 million aircraft to carry eight passengers and three crew up to 10,600km (5,700nm) at Mach 0.8, says Dassault.

US and European certification are scheduled for late next year, leading to first deliveries in early 2007. Dassault says the 7X is the first Falcon to attract over 50 firm orders before its first flight.

Meanwhile, first flight of the Falcon 900DX is scheduled for 17 May. The 900DX is a defuelled and $3 million cheaper version of the large-cabin 900EX, and certification and first deliveries are earmarked for the third and fourth quarter, respectively.

KATE SARSFIELD/LONDON

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