Dassault Aviation rolled-out its new flagship Falcon 8X in a high profile event at its Bordeaux facility in December. Rod Simpson witnessed the occasion.
From the outside there appears to be little difference between the Falcon 7X and the 8X, but beneath the skin a great deal of careful engineering has taken place. For a start, the fuselage is 3ft 6ins longer with two extra sections added to the forward and aft fuselage. There are two extra pairs of cabin windows, although the internal layout of the galley and restroom may reduce this to 15 on some aircraft.
Remarkably, Dassault’s engineers achieved this with no increase in the Zero Fuel Weight or the Maximum Landing Weight - and only a 3,000lbs increase in MTOW, thanks to careful paring of the aircraft’s wing structure. As Frederic Pettit, Dassault’s VP, Falcon Programs told AvBuyer, “We’ve been able to make weight reductions of 600lbs in the wing by achieving tiny reductions in the gauge of materials and by redesigning individual components to deliver strength with less weight.
“In addition, we’ve made changes to the aerodynamic shaping of the wing to optimize the profile and achieve a more favorable lift/drag ratio, redesigned the winglets and made changes to strengthen the undercarriage.”
Head of the Table
The new aircraft takes the Dassault business jet lineup to five models (Falcon 8X, 7X, 900LX, 2000LXS and 2000S), rising to six when the Falcon 5X appears. The Falcon 8X, which assumes lead position in the product line-up ahead of the Falcon 7X essentially offers customers more space, range and performance without sacrificing the fuel efficiency of the 7X.
Announced in May 2014, work has moved rapidly. The aircraft will take to the air early in 2015 and Dassault expects to achieve certification in mid-2016. Dassault Falcon Jet president & CEO, John Rosanvallon explained to AvBuyer, “Our customer advisory panel said to us that the Falcon 7X is a great aircraft but a bit more range would be welcome. They wanted a longer cabin to give more flexibility, particularly for the crew rest area. So, that is what we’ve achieved with the 8X.”
The Falcon 8X flies 500nm further than the 7X and is capable of 6,450nm carrying eight with three crew at Mach 0.8 (Mmo is 0.9).
This allows the Falcon 8X to connect Paris to Tokyo, Los Angeles or Cape Town. The improvement is due to additional fuel contained in the center fuel tank aft of the wing.
Fitted with three PW307D turbofans offering 5% more thrust than the PW307As on the Falcon 7X, Dassault says the Falcon 8X will have a 20% lower direct operating cost compared with the Gulfstream G550 and 35% less than a Global 6000. “This will save the 8X operator up to $5m in operating costs over six years,” Petitt projects, adding that the time between maintenance checks is being extended to 12 months which will reduce downtime and save expense.
Back Office Comfort
Passengers could be travelling legs of up to 14 hours on the Falcon 8X, so cabin comfort is critical. The forward cabin between the flight deck and the main passenger cabin can be configured in three possible lengths, the longest of which has a larger galley to give greater storage with a more flexible food preparation area and also has a crew rest cabin on the portside with a lie-flat berth to give quality relaxation to the flight crew member on stand-down.
In the main cabin, many seating layouts are possible but most aircraft will seat 14 passengers in three zones: Typically, the forward zone will have four facing club seats; the middle zone will be arranged as a four-place dining/meeting section with a retractable table and a side credenza; and the aft cabin with access to the restroom (shower optional) will have a pair of facing divans each with three seats.
Up to 32 large windows allowing plenty of light, and the FalconCabin HD+ cabin management system will add to productivity and comfort levels.
Dassault’s recently-opened design centers at Le Bourget and Teterboro, NJ will offer multiple features for customer selection, including fabrics and leathers for the seats and soft furnishings, galley and restroom options, the entertainment and connectivity facilities - and even the glassware and china to stock the galley.
Front Office Efficiency
For the flight crew, the Falcon 8X has Dassault’s EASy III flight deck incorporating a “wide-screen” head-up display which displays Dassault’s CVS (combining synthetic vision and enhanced vision systems). At present there’s a single HUD on the captain’s side, but the aircraft will be available with one on the right soon. Honeywell’s RDR-4000 next generation 3D weather radar with enhanced turbulence detection capability is incorporated, and both pilots have sidestick controls.
Because of the numerous changes to the airframe, the 8X will require new certification with a 500 hour flight test program.
Three development aircraft will be used, one fully-furnished and used for function and reliability testing.
Production of the aircraft is sold out until 2018 and new orders will carry a $58m price (compared with the $52m Falcon 7X). Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation summarized, “The 8X is an example of what Dassault does best. It’s a salute to the company’s forward-thinking and a tribute to our employees who share a passion for Dassault products.”