Dassault's Falcon 7X Takes Flight

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Another first flight in recent weeks took place in France. No, not the Airbus A380. Instead, Dassault Aviation's facility in Bordeaux Mérignac, France, was the site when Falcon 7X s/n 01 took off for the first time. Test pilots Yves "Bill" Kerherve and Philippe Deleume were aboard for the 01:36 flight. "The first flight of the Falcon 7X was a success," said Kerherve, who is the senior test pilot for Dassault Aviation. "The aircraft performed beautifully and we're on track to start the rigorous 15 months of flight testing that lay ahead." After takeoff, the first Falcon 7X climbed to 10,000 feet, where its crew performed various systems checks. Subsequent tests of the airplane's acceleration/deceleration characteristics, as well as basic autopilot and auto-throttle operations, were conducted at FL260. The Falcon 7X carried the registration numbers of F-WFBW as a reminder that it is also the first bizjet with a fly-by-wire flight control system. The plane is to be relocated to the Dassault Test Center in Istres, France, and will be joined by two more examples of the 7X by the summer. The company expects approximately 1200 flight-test hours will be needed before final certification by the FAA and EASA, presently scheduled for late 2006.