Last week, Dassault unveiled the Falcon 8X ultra-long-range business jet, keeping the program on time for a first flight in the first quarter, probably in February. The event took place in an assembly hall at the Bordeaux Mérignac factory, gathering customers, operators, industrial partners and representatives of certification authorities in an atmosphere that mixed “prestige, passion for aviation and the French touch,” as the organizers put it.
The Falcon 8X’s key features are its 6,450-nm range and its cabin, 3.5 feet longer than that of the Falcon 7X.
As recently as six days before the ceremonial dinner the aircraft shown was still in the paint hangar, and at 6 a.m. the following morning it was undergoing modifications as a result of testing conducted in the preceding months. Ground testing of flight controls, vibration and the fuel system concluded in November, and engine run-ups took place in early December. “The program is right on schedule,” said Olivier Villa, senior v-p for civil aircraft.
Derived from the Falcon 7X, the new model features a 42.6 ft (13 m)-long cabin, as compared to the 39.1 ft (11.9 m)-long passenger section of the earlier model. Significantly, an increase in fuel capacity combined with engine tweaks and aerodynamic refinements have upped range from the 7X’s 5,950 nm to 6,450 nm for the 8X, and that’s with three crewmembers, eight passengers, a Mach .80 cruise and NBAA IFR reserves upon arrival.
The range boost means the 8X can carry that same contingent from New York to Dubai, Sao Paulo to Moscow, Paris to Tokyo, and Beijing to London or New York. Like previous Falcons, the 8X will be able to meet the demanding approach and takeoff restrictions for operating into London City Airport.
The 8X’s 3.5 ft fuselage stretch, combined with a 3,000 lb increase in max takeoff weight to 73,000 lb (41,000 lb max zero fuel weight) were key to giving the new model its 14-hour mission endurance. Also contributing to the range boost are a 5% increase in takeoff thrust of the three Pratt & Whitney PW307 turbofans to 6725 lb thrust (@SL-ISA +17C), along with refinements of the main wing, including redesigned winglets, that shaved 600 lb from the structure.
Although the 7X and 8X have the same overall 761 sq ft (70.7 sq m) wing area, the latter’s new winglets increase the span slightly to 86 ft 3 in (26.29 m). The cabin stretch, which increases overall length to 80 ft 3 in (24.46 m), allowed Dassault engineers to fit the fuselage with up to 16 windows per side, flooding the cabin and and galley with natural light – so much so, that the overhead skylight in the 5X’s galley was deemed unnecessary for the 8X.
The 1,765 cubic ft (48 cu m) cabin, the most voluminous Falcon yet, is typically divided into three passenger seating sections plus crew rest area and lav, galley and aft lav, but Dassault is offering more than 30 different floor plans, including one with an optional shower.
The aircraft will be certified to 51,000 feet and maintain a 3,900 ft cabin altitude at FL410. The cockpit will feature the latest version of the Dassault’s EASy integrated flight deck, including SVS and EVS in the left seat HUD (a copilot HUD is planned), next generation FMS and digital flight control system.
Dassault is emphasizing the 8X’s operating performance and economy, noting its three-engine configuration provides better hot/high figures than the competition and allows it to serve hundreds more airports as well. Moreover, it claims the new tri-jet will be up to 35% more fuel efficient and, thanks is large measure to its MSG-3 design, will be easier and less expensive to maintain – with increased inspection periods – and should match the Falcon fleet’s 99.7% dispatch reliability rate upon service entry.
The Falcon 8X is sold out until the end of 2017, with the first delivery planned for the second half of 2016. AIN understands this equates to firm orders for about 50 Falcon 8Xs. “About 75 to 80 percent of 8X customers are upgrading from a 7X or a Falcon 900; this pattern is similar to what we saw when we launched the 7X,” Dassault Falcon Jet president and CEO John Rosanvallon said. Most of the remaining customers already own a long-range business jet. For a small percentage of buyers, the 8X will be their first aircraft.