60 Years of Dassault Cockpit Technology Advances

Celebrating 60 years since the first flight of the Falcon, today’s Falcon jets have flight decks which are unrecognizable compared with the round-dial cockpits of the early Falcons...

Rod Simpson  |  15th May 2023
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    Rod Simpson
    Rod Simpson

    Rod Simpson is a specialist freelance aviation writer and is the author of several aviation-related...

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    Dassault was an early adopter of integrated electronic flight instruments (the Falcon 100 in 1977 was the first business jet with an EFIS flight deck). The company introduced its EASy (Enhanced Avionics System) flight deck, developed in conjunction with Honeywell, in 2003 on the Falcon 900EX. Today, the EASy flight deck is in its fourth generation with more safety features such as a runway overrun warning.

    The EASy flight deck drew on fighter precepts: to simplify the pilot’s workload and improve situational awareness. The system has four screens, a primary flight display for each pilot, and two shared multifunction displays in the center for monitoring systems and graphic navigation information.

    The latest NeXus flight deck on the Falcon 10X will have touch screens and a further advancement of Dassault’s Digital Flight Control System (DFCS) developed from the latest Rafale design, along with a recovery mode activated by a single button control.

    There is also a single Smart Throttle that manages both engines and connects them to the DFCS to adjust engine power to each flight regime.

    The Falcon 10X will use Dassault’s FalconEye system (available on all Falcon models) which combines enhanced vision and synthetic vision, improving safety and airport access in low visibility conditions. In the 10X, both pilots will have a Head-Up Display (HUD) which may eventually allow operations in near zero-zero conditions.

    New Materials for Dassault's Jets

    Building lighter, stronger airframes is essential to squeezing out more useful load so as to carry more fuel and passengers and deliver more range. Dassault has been relentless in applying new materials to achieve these aims over the decades, refining the aerodynamics of the Falcon.

    As part of an EU advanced technologies initiative, Dassault designed and certified an all-composite wing for the Falcon 10 in the 1980s.

    It was fitted to an airplane that flew more than 8,000 hours over decades, though the wing was not introduced to the production line. Nevertheless, it provided valuable data for the greater use of composites not only at Dassault, but at European manufacturers ATR and Airbus.

    The new Falcon 10X will be the first production business jet with an all-composite wing—a 110-foot structure that is low in weight and tailored for high aerodynamic efficiencies.

    Dassault composite wing structures have proven themselves over decades in military applications. The carbon fiber wing of the Rafale fighter is renowned for its strength. The Rafale is notable for the ability to carry its own weight in payload, including a rather amazing amount of wing-mounted external stores.

    Techniques developed for combat aircraft have improved civil designs, reducing, for example, the individual component count for major structures, leading to simpler, lower weight and less costly assembly.

    Wire bundles throughout the airframe are carefully segregated, isolating flight control systems from other systems as on fighters, enhancing safety.

    Dassault's Evolved Service Network

    Dassault Aviation has built more than 2,700 business jets over the years and today more than 2,100 remain in service. In the early years of business jet travel, the fleet was mostly located in the US and Europe, but in the last two decades it has become globalized.

    China opened as a major market and in the last few years dynamic economies such as Malaysia and Vietnam have emerged as important markets.

    Recognizing the need for more factory service capacity, Dassault launched an expansion campaign in 2019. In that year, it acquired two major and well-respected MRO chains, TAG Aviation’s MRO centers (now known as Dassault Aviation Business Services) and ExecuJet MRO Services.

    The first acquisition expanded service locations around Europe, including Geneva and London. The second added facilities in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, plus Australia and New Zealand.

    Then the global organization went on a building and modernization campaign. Expanded facilities are set to open in Kuala Lumpur and Dubai. The network is building its flagship facility for the Americas in Melbourne, Florida. When that service location opens in 2024, the service network will stretch from Melbourne, USA to Melbourne, Australia.

    With 40 factory service locations and 20 authorized service centers, coverage is worldwide, as is the capability to perform heavy maintenance, major inspections and major upgrades such as EASy IV and FalconEye installations.

    It also provides locations from which spare parts and GoTeams can be dispatched, all coordinated from a 24/7 Command Center. To keep operations running around the clock, responsibility shifts from Bordeaux-Mérignac, France, to Teterboro, New Jersey, to Boise, Idaho and back to Mérignac every 24 hours.

    Given its investment in new aircraft and support infrastructure, it seems Dassault is on a steady trajectory to renew and expand its fleet through continued innovation.

    If CEO Eric Trappier sees one source of headwinds, it is from increasing environmental criticism of the industry, and he views SAF as the best near-term means of reducing Business Aviation’s already small carbon footprint (0.04% of all sources of emissions).

    Dassault has been proactive in promoting SAF use, with supplies now available to company and customer flights at Le Bourget, Bordeaux-Mérignac and its Little Rock, Arkansas completion and service center.

    More information from: www.dassaultfalcon.com

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