Passenger comfort

There's more to the flying experience than comfortable seating with the Falcons, boasts Dassault. Kerherve's mantra, "fly the trajectory", applies to passengers as well as to the pilot. If a wing drops due to wake turbulence, for example, the motion will be effectively stopped by the fly-by-wire control system. This enables the pilot to make an easy correction for the greater comfort of passengers.


"There will be a tremendous reduction, or even eradication, of what we call 'nuisance moments'," says Kerherve. "The 7X will respond to external influences with a natural, positive reaction - even without pilot input."

On the Falcon 7X, fly-by-wire control will be directed by two independent sidesticks. The traditional yoke-cable-control surface link has been replaced with a device that communicates the pilot's commands to the control surfaces via computer signal.

The Falcon 7X is designed to achieve flights of 5,700nm (10,500km) in under 13h, making it capable of linking virtually all major business destinations the world over with less flying time than rival corporate jets. To reduce passenger fatigue, a newly-designed cabin pressurisation system will maintain 6,000ft at 51,000ft altitude.

The aircraft, which will have 14 portholes on each side, is designed for eight passengers, with a basic floor plan offering variations on a three-compartment configuration, plus a private rest area for a crew of four (three pilots relaying each other, and a cabin attendant), and two lavatories.

Described as a flying five-star hotel suite offering the best of French style and American comfort, the 7X also offers SatCom and the latest ultra-modern office facilities. Business executives will be able to send and receive e-mails inflight on their own laptop computers. A galley for drinks and champagne meals on the trip will also be included.

While designed to compete against Gulfstream's GV and Bombardier's Global Express long-range business jets, the 7X has exterior dimensions smaller than either. Despite this, the cabin sports a 7ft 8in cross-section and a stand-up height of 6ft 2in as well as providing 8ft more cabin length.

Engines, systems & supercritical wings

Although there is a striking family resemblance to earlier Falcon trijets, the Falcon 7X will fly on the new generation supercritical wing, using latest technologies with increased sweep and span and benefiting from full transonic and low-speed optimisation, says Villa.

The new wing allows high-Mach cruise speeds without the steep drag increase of previous aerofoils. As with other supercritical aerofoils, this one has very little camber (curvature) in the forward position and a highly cambered (cusped) shape to the rear position. This provides an impressive maximum operating speed (Mmo) of Mach 0.90 with a maximum operating airspeed (Vmo) of 370kt, the highest in its class. As a result, the 7X has quicker climbs and descents, as well as low-level dashes on short legs, meaning that operators will be able to conduct most day-to-day flights at Mach 0.85 and above.

Dassault has optimised the wing's total shape in ways that allow a simplified structure comprising primarily metallic alloys, but also including composite materials for reduced weight and cost savings, as well as a generous internal volume for fuel. Sweep increases to 34° for the inboard portion of the wing and 30° for the outboard section, versus 29° and 25° respectively for the 900EX. The new wing will be free of any add-on devices such as stall fences and vortex generators. Approach speeds will be as low as 104kt, giving the plane the ability to operate from remarkably short fields and in hot countries.

Pratt & Whitney Canada's PW307A 6,100lb-thrust (27.1kN) engine has been selected in preference over Honeywell Engines Systems' AS905.

As a risk-sharing partner, P&WC is responsible for the integrated propulsion system. This includes the nacelle and thrust-reverser supplied by European venture Aeromacchi/Hurel Dubois.

P&WC chief executive Gilles Quinet says Dassault's performance targets for the Falcon 7X required an engine "between the PW306 and the PW308". The result is development and production of the WP307A version, an engine with "extremely high performance and low fuel burn," says Quinet.

EASy flight deck.

Stepping into an EASy cockpit, the first thing you see is the four large screens that are the hallmark of Honeywell's Primus Epic system, says Villa. "These screens can display all information from aircraft sensors affecting systems, communications, navigation and flight management. They are the key to the pilot's control over all those functions, and it is in this respect that EASy sets itself from other avionics using the same Primus Epic platform."

The cockpit will feature the EASy advanced flight-deck technology, featuring four 14.1in large liquid-crystal flat-panel screens.

Designed by pilots for pilots, the EASy flight deck benefits from the new, intuitive panel technology developed for the Falcon 900EX and Falcon 2000EX. It allows pilots to make "heads up" data entry using a cursor control device (CCD) and menu-driven selections. By limiting the time spent punching numbers into a flight management system, the chance for input errors is reduced.

As a result of extensive input from pilots, aviation authorities and safety management experts, the Falcon 7X flight deck is designed to simplify flight management tasks, improve crew co-ordination and provide unsurpassed situational awareness at all times, Villa says.

As the flight progresses into each new phase, EASy displays whatever new information is required, appropriate or desired (pilot options are always available). On descent, the system's look-ahead display can show the approach transition, runway data and so forth. If air traffic control changes the arrival, either pilot can update the flight plan in a matter of seconds just by clicking on the window's "Current settings" and making menu selections. In mountainous areas, terrain information is usually displayed for departures and arrivals, and of course, ground proximity avoidance guidance.

New assembly hall

Overall responsibility for the aircraft is Dassault's, with major parts being manufactured in house, drawing on the Dassault team's years of experience.

The fly-by-wire system has been entrusted to the engineering team that developed and installed the advanced technology flight controls of the Dassault Mirage 2000 and Rafale jet fighters. Dassault is constructing the airframe, the cockpit, forward parts (sections 1 and 2), the supercritical wing and the vertical fin.

French equipment manufacturer Latecoere builds the rear fuselage (section 5) while Sonaca makes the leading edge and a third French company, Socata, is in charge of the fuselage fairings. Spain's Construcciones Aeronauticas SA (Casa) is making the horizontal fin.

Other risk-sharing partners include Parker Aerospace for the power generation system, Aircraft Braking Systems for the wheels, brakes and brake control system, and TRW Aeronautical Systems for the hydromechanical and airbrake systems.

Final assembly will be in a specially-built, 21,000m2 hall at Merignac, adjoining Bordeaux-Merignac international airport. This area has been the home of Dassault Aviation's military aircraft building for the best part of the last century and civil jets since the 1960s.

Covering an area almost the size of two football pitches, the $32 million building has no interior pillars. It will house technical completion, testing, acceptance and delivery facilities. A new office building will accommodate planning, quality control and logistics services.

Construction is nearing completion, with a taxiway leading to the airport's two main runways. As of this summer, the new hall will be used to assemble previous generation Falcon 2000 and other more conventional Falcon aircraft.

For the US market, Dassault Falcon is also building a new painting hangar at its site at Little Rock, Arkansas, even bigger than the main home assembly plant at Bordeaux-Merignac, to accommodate the new Falcon 7X's wingspan of more than 82ft compared with the 900EX's 63ft 5in span.

"We have to look beyond current economic conditions and invest in our future," says Jean 'John' Rosanvallon, president of Dassault Falcon, based at Teterboro, New Jersey. "This new paint facility will allow Dassault to increase efficiencies as we prepare for a ramp-up of deliveries for the new Falcon 2000EX."

Early sales

The first batch of Falcon 7X contracts was signed up at an "introductory price" of about $31-32 million, with a $1.5 million cash deposit. At present, a score of new contracts are being negotiated, and some of them may be announced as clinched deals during the current Paris airshow.

The Falcon 7X will cost 12% more than the now top-of-the-line Falcon 900EX, which sells for $33 million at 2004 prices. While expensive, Dassault asserts that the 7X's low fuel consumption, maintenance requirements and initial acquisition cost will save millions of dollars compared with other global-range aircraft. Emphasis is placed on reliability and ease of maintenance so that the 7X "can spend more time flying and less time in the hanger," claims Dassault.

Source: Flight Daily News