Dassault Aviation’s Falcon 7X business jet, with a fly-by-wire, side-stick control system, promises to redefine the word “new.” At the Dassault Falcon Jet 25th Worldwide Maintenance & Operators Seminar, held in June in in Boca Raton, Fla., the company also described the virtual-reality program that promises to dramatically reduce maintenance time and costs for operators of the big, $37 million trijet.
On April 27 Dassault hosted a formal ceremony at its Bordeaux facility to celebrate FAA and EASA certification of the Falcon 7X. Before the event took place, some industry observers believed it would be merely a public relations forum at which the airframer would proudly wave the paperwork it had received several days earlier. However, the planned ceremony coincided with the actual certification.
Dassault Aviation comes to Geneva this week on a wave of exhilaration generated by having achieved simultaneous European and U.S. certification less than a month ago. The French manufacturer has completed the long, meticulous development of the world’s first fly-by-wire (FBW) business jet.
At a ceremony Friday in Bordeaux-Mérignac, France, Dassault Aviation received type certification for the Falcon 7X from the EASA and the FAA. Pilot training began the same day at the new CAE facility in Morristown, N.J. The trijet is expected to enter service before the end of next month, about a year later than targeted when the aircraft was unveiled in October 2001. The 5,950-nm Falcon 7X accomplished many firsts, according to Dassault.
Dassault Aviation will decide by early next year whether to launch a smaller jet, chairman and CEO Charles Edelstenne said recently. Since production of the small, sleek Falcon 10 ended in 1983, Dassault has concentrated on building larger business jets. The apparently twin-engine jet now being considered would be priced below $20 million and would be about the size of the Falcon 50 trijet but have a shorter range.
In late May at the EBACE show in Geneva, Dassault unveiled a new version of the Falcon 900. Dubbed the Falcon 900DX, the trijet is a clone of the 900EX, except for its fuel tanks. Dassault salespeople, however, can arguably talk about value for money–the 900DX’s price is hardly higher than that of the 900C it replaces ($31.95 million versus $31.6 million).
Falcon business jet orders and deliveries last year decreased by 44 percent and 26 percent, respectively, according to Dassault chairman and CEO Charles Edelstenne. At the company’s headquarters in Saint-Cloud, France, in mid-February, Edelstenne said orders for 40 Falcons were received last year, down from 72 in 2002. Deliveries fell last year to 49 Falcons, from 66 in 2002.
Demand for large business jets is growing in the European executive charter market, according to the latest statistics from online charter booking service Avinode. According to the Gothenburg, Sweden-based company, large jets accounted for 29 percent of all requests in December, up from 17 percent in July.
A third Falcon 7X, S/N 03, on Tuesday joined the flight-test program. It will be used primarily for avionics, systems, and function and reliability testing. On its first flight of one hour and 43 minutes, the trijet reached 41,000 feet and Mach 0.82, according to Dassault. With this flight, Dassault said the Falcon 7X test fleet has logged 171 hours in 60 sorties. About 1,200 flight-test hours are planned as part of the certification program.
CAE’s training facility in Morristown, N.J. is now open for limited use, according to the flight simulator manufacturer and training provider. The new business aviation training center has been in operation since the end of January, using Gulfstream IV and Sikorsky S-76 simulators transferred from its Dallas facility. The six-bay training center is expected to be fully operational this spring.