Since the maiden flight of the Falcon 7X on May 5, the 5,700-nm-range trijet has been flying almost daily from Dassault’s flight- test center in Istres, France. By the middle of last month, the 7X had logged 45 hours during 15 flights and had reached Mach 0.82 and 41,000 feet.
Dassault said it received orders for 52 Falcons in the first six months of this year, compared with 62 for the whole of last year. The company, which also said it had orders for 92 Falcon 7Xs as of June 30, forecasts that by year-end it will have orders for 100 copies of the new trijet. The first 7X is earmarked for delivery next spring to Serge Dassault the company’s majority stockholder.
Dassault will decide by early next year whether to launch a smaller Falcon, chairman and CEO Charles Edelstenne said shortly before the Paris Air Show last month. Production of the small, sleek Falcon 10 ended in 1983. The apparently twin-engine jet Dassault is now considering would be priced at less than $20 million and would be about the size of the Falcon 50 trijet but have less range.
Dassault Aviation’s second conforming Falcon 7X made a 2 hour 15 minute maiden flight on July 5. A day later the trijet was ferried to Dassault’s flight-test center in Istres, France. At press time, the 7X test fleet had logged more than 65 hours during 27 flights. FAA and EASA certification is slated for late next year.
In medicine it goes by various names: restorative surgery, cosmetic surgery, transplant surgery. In the world of business jets it’s called anything from a rerag to a major refurbishment. By whatever name it goes, the process breathes varying degrees of new life into an airplane that is showing its age but worth rejuvenating.
Last month Dassault said its engineers have validated several improvements to the Falcon 7X– such as increased mtow, engine thrust, fuel capacity and winglets– that increase range to 5,950 nm from 5,700 nm. These improvements have nudged the type certification schedule into early next year.
The owner of the 1991 Falcon 900 shown here undergoing an extensive cockpit and cabin renovation by Duncan Aviation in Lincoln, Neb., has learned a lesson familiar to all pioneers: the unknown lurks somewhere out there and will spring surprises.
The Falcon 7X flight-test program is progressing on schedule, with four of the trijets logging more than 850 hours during 275 test flights. Certification flights with the EASA have begun and will be completed by year-end, to be followed by final certification and first deliveries early in the new year. As a further mark of progress, Falcon 7X S/N 04 joined the test fleet in late July.
Calculation and theory go only so far in an aircraft development program, and last month it was time for Dassault’s Falcon 7X S/N 003 to jump in and get its feet wet. The new trijet completed contaminated-runway testing at Cranfield Airport, UK, by performing 12 runs through 20 mm of water.
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