It was early evening on March 17, 2000, when N814M, a Falcon 900B owned by BP Amoco, overran the runway while landing at Barnstable Municipal Airport in Hyannis, Mass. Racing past the numbers, it crashed through the Runway 24 localizer antenna array and a chain-link fence.
A year after construction began, the new assembly facility for the long-range Dassault Falcon 7X is finished and has already started operations. Attendees at the inauguration on September 15 in Bordeaux, France, could see some 10 Falcon 2000 and 2000EX twinjets in the last stages of final assembly.
Dassault Aviation has completed assembly of the first Falcon 7X business jet and is aiming to fly it in March. The construction process for the Falcon 7X took just seven months, about half the time it took the company to build the first example of its current flagship, the Falcon 900EX. The manufacturer was aiming to have the aircraft powered up by the end of last month, with a view to conducting a ground run by year-end.
Over the past decade or so, Dassault Aviation has raised the eyebrows of some business aircraft industry analysts. Why, some asked, didn’t the French airframer follow Bombardier and Gulfstream in the charge to develop an ultra-long-range corporate jet? Why, others wondered, hasn’t Dassault matched the offerings of Cessna and Raytheon in the ever-expanding small and midsize business jet sectors?
September 21 marked 20 years since the first Falcon 900 took flight. Since then, Dassault has built 337 copies of the trijet in five different variants. According to Dassault, all 337 are still in operation, including the Greek-registered Falcon 900 in which six people were killed when the airplane went through several severe in-flight oscillations on Sept. 14, 1999.
Dassault’s upcoming super-midsize business jet, already known to have fly-by-wire flight controls and Rolls-Royce engines, remains an otherwise fluid project at this stage. Charles Edelstenne, chairman of Dassault Aviation, told 850 breakfast guests here yesterday that “other partners will be chosen before the end of next year,” at which time Dassault will reveal more details about the proposed airplane.
Dassault is inching closer to the launch of its new super-midsize business jet, the latest in its Falcon line. Charles Edelstenne, Dassault chairman and CEO, confirmed in Paris last month that the company would unveil development details of the super-midsize next year. Dassault has defined most of the characteristics of the eight- to 10-seat, long-range aircraft, and selection of the main partners is under way.
Make no mistake, Dassault is having another record year. But a lengthy production backlog for the Falcon 7X is starting to put strains on capacity, particularly at the French manufacturer’s Little Rock, Ark. completion center. The site of a $20 million expansion project now under way, the center is adding much-needed paint hangars, engineering shops and storage space.
From new Cessna Citations to new versions of Hawker Beechcrafts to clean-sheet designs like Dassault Falcon’s fly-by-wire 7X, the world of business jets continues to grow.
Significant cost and time savings achieved through the use of advanced digital design and production software on the Falcon 7X have persuaded Dassault that the development of new business jets smaller than the 5,700-nm 7X trijet might be economically more viable than the company had previously thought, although senior v-p of civil aircraft Olivier Villa declined to reveal what size of jet would likely be next in line for creation on company en