Almost exactly six years after its unveiling as the world's first fly-by-wire business jet at the 2001 Paris air show, Dassault's flagship long-range trijet, the 7X, received its certification from the European Aviation Standards Agency and the US Federal Aviation Authority on 27 April.
Flight International's test pilot Peter Collins was at the controls of aircraft number three, alongside veteran Dassault test pilot Bill Kerherve, on a 90min flight from the company's test centre in Istres to the certification ceremony at Dassault's Merignac factory near Bordeaux. Collins, whose flight test will appear in the 15 May EBACE issue of Flight International, says the digital flight control system - derived from Dassault's Mirage and Rafale military aircraft - and the Honeywell EASy cockpit meant the 7X "flew like a fighter".
"You can't stall or overspeed it," he says. "They've taken the long-range benchmark and whacked it up a notch."
Dassault believes the 7X - though a late arrival on the market - can win 40% of the long-range market against its rivals, the Global 5000 and Global Express from Bombardier and Gulfstream's G550, a total market Dassault Falcon president John Rosanvallon believes will amount to more than 1,000 aircraft by 2013. All these aircraft are designed to carry the ultra-important non-stop from the likes of Paris to San Francisco or Dubai to New York.
The manufacturing process for the 7X was described at the ceremony by Jean Louis Cuvillier, vice-president 7X programme, as an "industrial revolution", involving 27 global partners working on a "virtual plateau" - a real time computerised design platform based at Dassault's St Cloud headquarters near Paris but connecting suppliers around the world.