Business Aviation Interviews

Aircraft Spotlight: Dassault Falcon 10X

Aircraft Spotlight: Dassault Falcon 10X

Most newly introduced aircraft are iterations of current products—stretched, re-winged, re-engined or upgraded in some other way. It is cost-effective and usually gives customers sufficient reason to move up to something new.

Dassault has taken a distinctly different approach in recent years, making the heavy investment to introduce two all-new aircraft as a means of seizing the high-ground in the high end market segments.

Its Falcon 6X mated an all-new fuselage—with the largest cabin cross section in a purpose-built business jet—to an all-new wing offering high-speed efficiency and classic Falcon short-field capabilities. Since March 10, that airplane has been in the air in a flight test program aimed at certification in 2022.

With flight testing successfully launched, Dassault decided it was time to take the wraps off its second entirely new aircraft—the just announced Falcon 10X. That airplane, unveiled by Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier on May 6 in Paris, immediately caused a stir among business jet customers around the world, and likely also in Montreal and Savannah, where Bombardier and Gulfstream aircraft are built.

That is because the 10X establishes a new standard for cabin size, as well as in many dimensions of performance. The 10X eclipses all its competitors with a cabin that is nearly eight inches (20 cm) wider than the next largest cabin, and has a cabin height of six-feet, eight inches (2.03 m)—the tallest in the industry. The 10X cabin has approximately 15 percent more cabin volume than its ultra long-range competitors, the Gulfstream G700 or Bombardier Global 7500.

What will operators do with that extra space? For starters, they will be able customize to their hearts content. Traditionally, large cabin aircraft have relatively fixed cabin zones of equal dimensions. In the 10X, each of four zones has four windows per side. From there, you could expand a zone — say an aft stateroom with full-size queen bed, dressing area and shower — to up to eight windows. Or create an intimate media center with just three windows, a divan and large-screen TV monitor. Or expand a traditional dining/conference area. Or create a compartment with semi-private individual berths, like some airline first class sections, for better rest. Or… you get the idea.

Back to the bed for a moment — because who would not want a mega-yacht-style stateroom on their jet. Dassault notes that beds on competing jets are about 10 inches (25 cm) shy of being a true queen. The bed on the 10X certainly looks like a comfy bed at home, not like something wedged into a recreational vehicle.

Dassault also points out that cabin pressurization will be the lowest in the industry, with a 3,000 foot pressure altitude while cruising at 41,000 feet. Humidification will add to a comfortable and healthy environment, as will 100 percent pure air flow from a new filtration system that removes ozone and pollution from volatile organic compounds.

Cabin air will flow from ceiling and floor vents to provide even temperatures throughout the length of the cabin and from top to bottom as well. Each of the four zones will have individual temperature controls. The 10X windows are nearly 50 percent bigger than those on the 8X, Dassault’s current flagship, and offer the most window area of any business jet and the brightest cabin, according to the company.

Like its predecessors, the 10X will be completed in Little Rock, Arkansas where old world craftsmanship happily coexists with the latest digital production techniques, so we fully expect that 10X cabins will be beautiful, functional and quiet. Dassault says the new aircraft will be at least as quiet as the 8X , which they say is the quietest in the industry.

Some might argue that products from Boeing and Airbus are, in fact, larger business jets. So let us be clear: The Falcon 10X will be the largest purpose-built business jet. Business jets have the advantage over converted airliners in fuel efficiency and their ability to access smaller airports, including those without the specialized ground equipment or ramp space to accommodate airliners. They also fly at higher altitudes, avoiding congested air lanes and turbulence. A business jet such as the Falcon 10X would offer a far more economic operation, while providing many of the advantages of a big, big cabin.

Dassault has traditionally built aircraft with large cabins and relatively modest ramp presence, making them easier to operate at small airports. The 10X, somewhat surprisingly for its cabin size, retains these traits. From tip to tail, at 109.7 feet (33.4 m), it is actually three inches (7.6 cm) shorter than the G700 and a foot shorter than the Global 7500.

The wingspan on the Falcon 10X is about five feet (1.5 m) greater, but yields exemplary performance at both ends of the speed envelop, as well as high efficiency, even with the industry’s largest cabin. Previous Falcons were optimized around a long-range cruise of Mach 0.80. The 10X, with a high-aspect-ratio wing and new aerodynamics, is optimized for 7,500 nautical miles range at Mach 0.85, with a top speed of Mach 0.925.

So even at high-speed cruise, the Falcon 10X will connect distant city pairs such as Beijing and New York or London and Singapore nonstop.

The Falcon 10X wing is made entirely of carbon fiber composites, a first in business aviation and a true technological leap forward. Dassault employs the same techniques used to build the immensely strong Rafale fighter wing. The 10X wing is equipped with high lift devices for excellent low-speed performance. In this case, each wing has two large flaps, four slats and three spoilers. Preliminary figures given for takeoff distance is less than 6,000 feet and landing distance less than 2,500 feet. The aircraft will, according to Dassault, have the best steep approach capability for access to London City Airport and other airports with non-standard approaches.

Dassault predicts a very smooth ride in turbulence thanks to a strong, yet flexible, wing combined with Dassault’s advanced digital flight control system, which can make small, rapid responses to gusts.

Dassault was the first business jet company to introduce digital flight controls with the Falcon 7X, since refined on the 8X and 6X. But the 10X goes a considerable step further with technology directly drawn from the Rafale fighter safety features.

Though the 10X has two engines, it has one smart throttle to control them. It is fully integrated into the digital flight control system in order to provide a number of safety advantages. For starters, it simplifies power management in a range of conditions, from flying efficient climb and descent profiles to dealing with one-engine-inoperative scenarios. But the greatest advance is an automatic recovery mode in the event of a wake turbulence encounter or other upset scenario.

The flight deck is designed for simplicity and reduced workload. There are fewer switches plus touchscreens throughout. Dual HUDs tied to the FalconEye combined vision system will allow pilots to conduct future EVS-to-land operations with essentially zero ceiling. The flight deck is a roomy space, allowing pilot seats in the future to fully recline, so that one pilot could rest in cruise. While this is not permitted today, Dassault anticipates possible regulatory changes that would allow long-duration missions with just two crew members in a cockpit specifically designed around one-pilot management.

The 10X is the first Falcon to have a T-tail, which designers say emerged as the lowest drag option for a twin-engine aircraft at high cruise speeds. A pair of Rolls-Royce Pearl 10X engines — the most recent and powerful in the Pearl family of engines — supplies more than 18,000 pounds of thrust each. The engine is five percent more efficient than its predecessor, the BR725, and is designed to be able to accept 100 percent sustainable aviation fuels.

While the 10X has yet to fly, its specifications position it at the top of the market, an enviable position for any company. Dassault expects to certify it in end of 2025.