Dassault Aviation is making steady progress towards an early 2021 first flight for its Falcon 6X. “Bringing the Falcon 6X to market on schedule is a top priority for the company. Our planning and production staff have been diligent and resourceful in adapting procedures to new sanitary guidelines to keep this programme running smoothly,” says chairman and CEO Eric Trappier. “Our suppliers have also made extraordinary efforts to support us. We are grateful to them all.”
The first of the three pre-production aircraft that will take part in flight certification has been powered up and has entered ground testing. Aircraft two and three are in advanced stages of assembly and long cycle parts production for serialised production has already begun. Certification and entry into service are set for 2022, in keeping with the original timetable. The second aircraft recently had its wings mated to the fuselage and the third aircraft is in the early stages of final assembly. Each will be heavily instrumented and, like aircraft number one, will be capable of performing aerodynamic, performance and systems testing.
Aircraft three will receive a full interior to evaluate systems functionality, acoustics, airflow, comfort and other factors. Interior furnishings, environmental systems, electronics and other equipment are currently being tested in a ground test rig prior to installation on the aircraft.
Electric, hydraulic and fuel system tests have been completed and testing of the Falcon 6X's advanced digital flight control system has begun. Ground fatigue and damage tolerance testing has also been initiated. This test cycle will later be extended to include stress testing to maximum load limits and beyond.
The Falcon 6X offers the largest cabin cross section of any purpose-built business jet (6'6” tall by 8'6” wide) and its 5,500 nm range allows it to connect Paris and Tokyo or Los Angeles and Moscow. The new twinjet is also equipped with the latest technologies, including a new-generation Digital Flight Control System (DFCS) that provides unmatched manoeuvrability in flight. The new DFCS controls all moving surfaces including a new multifunction control area called a flaperon, adapted from Dassault fighter aircraft.
Assembly of Falcon 6X engines and nacelles is ramping up in parallel with aircraft production. The aircraft's Pratt & Whitney Canada PW812D engine completed an initial airborne test campaign earlier this year aboard Pratt & Whitney's Boeing 747 testbed aircraft, and a second series of flight tests are scheduled this summer. To date the PW812D has accumulated over 200 hours in the air and more than 1,600 hours on the ground. It has also completed initial certification tests, including bird strike, ice ingestion and blade-off tests.
The PW1200G core engine shared by the PW812D has accumulated more than 16,000 hours running time. The PW800 series exceeds ICAO standards for NOx emissions by a double-digit margin and generates ultra-low levels of unburned hydrocarbons and smoke. The PW812D will meet future CO2 regulations and achieve Stage 4 noise requirements with significant margin.
Production operations at Dassault's Bordeaux-Merignac, France main assembly facility are now back to normal after a brief disruption due to the COVID-19 crisis. The company used the time to devise safer procedures with smaller crews on the production floor, now working once again in two shifts.
The Dassault flight test team is currently coordinating with EASA and the FAA to finalise the flight test and validation programme.