Gallic Refinement: Dassault Readies 7X

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With some 1,020 hours spread among 335 test flights, Dassault Aviation's Falcon 7X is edging closer to EASA and FAA type certification, according to a briefing the company conducted Monday here at NBAA. So far, the fly-by-wire, 69,000-lb.-MGTOW 7X has been through hot- and cold-weather trials, as well as low-altitude, high-speed test flights. Its Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307 turbofan engines have accumulated some 7,200 hours of testing, including 3,100 hours on the 7X and another 820 on a Boeing 720 engine-test aircraft. Before Dassault achieves full type certification -- expected in early 2007, with initial deliveries to follow in the second quarter -- it expects to fly the 7X as many as 1,500 hours, all of which it plans to conclude by the end of 2006.

Next month, s/n 005 will be delivered to the company's completion center in Little Rock, Ark., where all 7X aircraft will get their finishing touches. Forty of the new Falcons are now in some stage of production, with s/n 014 in final assembly; at least 125 examples have been ordered or optioned and three-per-month full production is sold out until the latter half of 2011. Of those airframes, NetJets Europe has spoken for 24 copies, worth U.S. $1.1 billion, to be delivered beginning in 2008 and continuing through 2014.