...While Falcon 7X Flight-Test Program Progresses

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Meanwhile, Dassault's Falcon 7X, which first flew on May 5, 2005, has been airborne almost daily, accumulating almost 15 hours of flight time as of mid-May. The design, which features what the company calls the first "fly-by-wire" bizjet, is yet another refinement of the Dassault's three-engine philosophy and incorporates levels of technology similar to other Falcon offerings. According to the company, testing for all of the modes of the fly-by-wire controls including reversionary modes has been accomplished. The airplane was also landed using fly-by-wire backup modes. "Real time flight data analysis and excellent reliability have allowed us to move forward faster than expected," said Yves "Bill" Kerherve, senior chief test pilot for Dassault Aviation. The first five flights have been dedicated to progressive flight-envelope expansion. "So far, we have opened up the flight envelope to 41,000 feet, Mach 0.82 and 280 knots Indicated Air Speed," said Philippe Deleume, Falcon chief test pilot. "We have completed turns with bank angles of 80 degrees to test buffet and handling qualities. Also, we tested the aircraft's slow speed performance down to 105 knots and pulled 2 G's during various maneuvers." During the fifth flight, the pilots voluntarily shut down engine number three in flight to check test relighting. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307A turbofan performed as expected. The PW307A received its Type Certificate from Transport Canada on April 15, just 28 months after the first engine run. "Engine response from idle to maximum power is just amazing and is much faster than on all previous Falcons," said Deleume. The aircraft is typically flown with 15,000 pounds of fuel, giving it a takeoff weight of 54,000 pounds with flight-test equipment. At that weight, takeoff distance has been typically around 2,450 feet. Climb rates of up to 5,000 fpm have been demonstrated and descent rates of 7,000 fpm have been performed to check the pressurization system. A static- and fatigue-test example of the Falcon 7X airframe has been undergoing tests since March 2005.