Business Aviation Profile

Big new Jets from Dassault on the Horizon

Big new Jets from Dassault on the Horizon

Falcon 6X Certification Nears, with Construction of First Falcon 10X Close Behind

Dassault very much has Asian customers in its mind for its new business jets. The French manufacturer, which also builds the Rafale fighter, is focusing on large, comfortable cabins in aircraft that can fly long distances, which are the top criteria for customers in China and elsewhere.

The company also wants its customers to know that comfort and capability come with technologies derived from the fighter jet side of the business. These include advanced fly-by-wire systems; all-seeing enhanced vision systems for operation in any weather; and military grade safeguards such as fuel tank inerting to prevent sparks.

It is a unique approach aimed at delivering rugged, reliable aircraft that still feel like flying penthouses.

The 5,500 nm (10,200 km) Falcon 6X exemplifies this philosophy. The 6X was designed for long-range comfort with the tallest and widest cabin in its class, six feet six inches tall (1.98 meters) by eight feet six inches wide (2.58 meters). In fact, until the introduction of the larger 10X, it will have the widest cross-section of any business jet, allowing customers to create unique cabin arrangements that provide exceptional comfort whilst crossing many time zones.

The flight test program for the 6X is on schedule, and certification is due before the end of the year. As of this writing, one test aircraft is in Iqaluit, Canada in the Arctic Circle undergoing “cold soak” testing, seeking temperatures down to -40°C. The 17-person test team reports being really cold, but very satisfied with the aircraft’s performance.

Test pilots have flown five examples of the aircraft for more than 600 hours, expanding the flight envelope from the slowest speeds (the aircraft can land as slowly as 109 knots) to the fastest. They’ve performed stalls in all sorts of weight and balance combinations, landed with high crosswinds and tailwinds, mapped a completed cabin for sound and for temperature variations, and performed hundreds of other tests.

Their consensus is that the 6X has delightful flight characteristics, even in comparison with other Falcon models, a line known for precise handling. The 6X has the most advanced fly-by-wire system in a Falcon to date, which helps explain the pilot accolades. Previous fly-by-wire versions controlled ailerons, elevators and the rudder. The 6X controls all moving surfaces, including a new control device known as a flaperon, which aids in the steep approaches required at some airports.

Last December, the aircraft operated for a week from Dassault’s Paris-Le Bourget Fixed Base Operator (FBO), where it was fueled with a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) blend from TotalEnergies. The 6X can be operated on up to 50 percent SAF. Sustainability has become a major objective for many of Dassault’s customers’ flight departments.

Meanwhile, detailed design is nearly complete for the 10X, indisputably the largest and most advanced purpose built business jet. The 10X has been designed to compete at the very top of the business jet market, with a range of 7,500 nautical miles (13,900 km) and a maximum speed of Mach 0.925. The cabin dimensions create new possibilities for highly customized environments where passengers can be at home on trips up to 15 hours.

For example, aft staterooms of various lengths can be designed and can be equipped with a true queen-size bed, something that is not feasible in other ultra-long-range jets. Cabin dividers can be spaced according to owner preference, creating an extra-large dining area, for example, or a small, intimate TV room with a popup large screen opposite a divan.

The 10X cabin is eight inches wider than the next largest cabin, which happens to be the 6X and height is six feet, eight inches (2.03 meters), the tallest in the industry. Cabin volume is approximately 15 percent greater than ultra-long-range competitors.

As big as it is, the 10X will continue the Falcon tradition of providing access to smaller reliever airports and will also have steep approach capabilities for challenging fields such as London City Airport. Takeoff distance is less than 6,000 feet and landing distance is less than 2,500 feet.

The 10X adds even more capability to the digital flight control system. Though it has two engines, it has one Smart Throttle to control them, simplifying power management. The Smart Throttle is linked to a groundbreaking automatic recovery mode that protects against a wake turbulence encounter or other upset scenario. This system was pioneered on the Rafale fighter.

The 10X will be powered by 18,000-pound thrust Rolls Royce Pearl 10X engines, the most recent and powerful in the ultra-efficient Pearl family. The 10X will break new ground in being 100-percent SAF capable.

The first parts for the 10X will be manufactured in 2022. Dassault expects entry into service for its new flagship in 2025.