Business Aviation Market Intelligence

Recent World Tour Prepares Wide-Body Falcon 6X for Service Entry

Recent World Tour Prepares Wide-Body Falcon 6X for Service Entry

Dassault Aviation is down to the final flight test campaigns before achieving certification and placing the Falcon 6X into service with customers. Those deliveries will take place in mid-2023 with first aircraft already undergoing cabin completion at the company’s Little Rock centre.

The 6X is Dassault’s most advanced aircraft yet and its largest and most comfortable. The cabin cross section (6.6 feet tall and 8.6 feet wide) eclipses any other business jet – with the exception of the Falcon 10X now in development. The 6X is the largest aircraft in the long-range segment, and has the capability to fly over 11 hours and 5,500 nautical miles nonstop. It is a big jet that retains Dassault’s trademark short field capabilities, in large part due to the wing’s moveable slats that extend to provide high lift and low approach speeds.

The 6X also retains typical Dassault efficiency through aerodynamics and the aircraft’s recently certified Pratt & Whitney 812D engine, which provides double digit fuel efficiency gains over comparable earlier generation engines. The aircraft can operate on a blend of up to 50 percent sustainable aviation fuel.

The 6X has marched through a certification program that began with first flight on March 10, 2021. As of writing in October 2022, Dassault Aviation test pilots are finishing verification flights with EASA and FAA pilots, which is the last step toward certification. Flight envelope expansion (including to .97 Mach, brushing the sound barrier) has been complete for months.

In August, a flight test aircraft baked in the Tunisian desert at temperatures up to about 50°C to assure proper functioning in high heat and proper cooling while flying circuits at 10,000 feet over the desert. These were bookend tests to cold soak trials in the winter near the Arctic Circle in Canada, which involved aircraft operations after cold soaking overnight to -38°C.

A full flight simulator for the 6X is up and running at CAE Burgess Hill in the UK and will be ready for training the first customer crews soon. Pilots will have a chance to train on the most advanced avionics yet installed in a Falcon. Its new EASy IV flight deck includes safety alerts to prevent runway overruns and detailed airport moving maps to make it easy to taxi in limited visibility, especially in complex airports with multiple runways and a maze of taxiways. Owners can now order dual head-up displays with the FalconEye combined vision system. Already, FalconEye operators with a single HUD can descend to within 100 feet of the runway in limited visibility.

The toughest test of all – the real world

To give the 6X the kind of work out it can expect in customer operations, Dassault planned a grueling world tour to evaluate reliability far from testing bases in France.

“Within the month of July, the first production 6X touched down in more than 50 cities on five continents (all but Australia and Antarctica), over 150 flight hours.”

Serial number 004 experienced no aircraft-on-ground (AOG) issues and no delays.

The aircraft was crewed over that time by a dozen pilots and several flight attendants. Also along to assess more than 250 reliability items were dozens of engineers doubling as test passengers on various legs.

At times, every seat was full, with 14 passengers dining; working; reclining, swiveling and tracking seats; video conferencing; adjusting the air conditioning; and running the water and lav systems.

Connectivity was reported as excellent in remote parts of the world. Pilots gave all systems, including the 6X’s advanced digital flight controls, high marks and assessed performance as “spot on.” Measurements and passenger perceptions confirm the 6X as the quietest Falcon yet, even at high cruise speeds (which can generate more slipstream noise) up to Mach .88. The Falcon 8X is currently reputed to be the quietest business jet.

The 6X operated at a high tempo, accomplishing four or five flights on some days. It’s longest leg was Paris to Los Angeles in 11 hours and 20 minutes. The route flown was 5,150 nautical miles against headwinds and was completed with an hour’s reserve fuel.

One hundred and twenty hours in a month is very high usage for a business jet, and is usually achieved only by some high-volume charter and fractional businesses. That a brand new, not-yet certificated business jet can sustain this level of activity speaks to its maturity. That its toughest critics—the engineers who designed it—give it high marks as passengers, also speaks well of the airplane.

For Dassault, the 6X is just embarking on its most important mission, asserting its status as the largest and most capable jet in the popular 5,000 nautical miles—range category.