Dassault Aviation’s new flagship, the Falcon 8X, is making its debut at the NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (BACE) in Las Vegas.
Since first taking to the air last February, the three aircraft in the flight test program have accumulated 380 flight hours over 185 flights, and are now more than two thirds of the way towards FAA and EASA approval. The flight envelope has been fully opened and s/n 01 recently reached a speed of Mach 0.97. The portion of the program dedicated to certification, including takeoff and landing performance and validation of the aircraft’s third generation EASy flight deck, is also advanced.
Derived from the popular Falcon 7X and featuring many of its industry leading technologies, the ultra-long range Falcon 8X (6,450 nm/11,945 km) was unveiled in May 2014 at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition and rolled out on December 17 of the same year. It will offer the greatest range and the longest cabin of any Falcon and the largest selection of cabin configurations in the industry.
The 8X on display in Las Vegas, the sixth to come off the assembly line, will head to Dassault’s Little Rock, Arkansas completion facility after the show for cabin and equipment outfitting and painting. Two other 8Xs are already in Little Rock, including the first customer aircraft and the third test unit, which is preparing for the cabin comfort test campaign.
In parallel with flight tests, Dassault is continuing to ramp up production at its final assembly facility in Mérignac, near Bordeaux, France. Eight aircraft are currently in various stages of assembly in Mérignac and ground was recently broken there on a new six-bay hangar to handle maintenance and repair work for the 8X, the 7X and other Falcon models.
“We are extremely satisfied with the way the 8X program is progressing. Aircraft flight performance, notably long range capability, has fully met design targets and production ramp up has proceeded smoothly,” said Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier. “We anticipate certification by mid-2016, on schedule, with initial deliveries to follow in the second half of the year.”
The 100-hour cabin comfort test campaign, set to get underway in Little Rock early next year, will focus on verifying comfort, acoustics, air conditioning, entertainment/communications and other cabin features. These tests will also include a round-the-world tour to demonstrate operational reliability and performance in different conditions of flight, including high and low temperature, high humidity and high altitude operation.
“The world tour will take the aircraft through flights of various duration in all kinds of difficult conditions representing the extremes of what our customers might expect to face during their aircraft’s operational life,” said Trappier. “Our goal is to deliver the most comfortable and smoothest performing aircraft on the market, with all systems and features working like clockwork from day one.”
Dassault will also be exhibiting its expanding line of large-cabin, long range Falcon business jets at the show, which opens on November 17.
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