Dassault Bulks Up Falcon 7X

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Meanwhile, Dassault's Falcon 7X program is getting a lot of attention inside the company, in hopes the to-be-certified growth version of the company's venerable trijet will help lead the company to even better years of marketing. Announced last October at NBAA were design improvements for the 7X that could increase the range from 5,700 nm to 6,000 nm. Now, Dassault says it has boosted the new jet's payload by 50%. Additional fuel tanks have been installed in the plane's forward section and testing on the stronger landing gear and brakes needed, as well as the airframe itself, have been performed and validated. To accommodate the increased MTOW, thrust for the Pratt & Whitney Canada 307A engines has been increased. The initial flat-rated thrust was 6,100 lbs. per engine at ISA +18C; the new per-engine thrust will be set at 6,400 lbs. under identical conditions. Even better: engine performance targets will have no impact on the maintenance time between overhauls.

Olivier Villa, senior vice president of Civil Aircraft at Dassault Aviation, said, "Over the past several years, I've had the opportunity to meet a lot of 7X prospects and customers. That has helped us refine the vision and get a better understanding of their mission requirements. It was clear that some of them wished to have additional margins to perform their missions in adverse weather conditions and without payload limitations." Continued Villa, "We decided to increase the aircraft range and payload capacity in order to meet and exceed their additional requirements." A number of other refinements and modifications are being developed for the 7X, including winglets, which were initially set aside after early wind-tunnel tests. Now, however, the winglets are back, after flight tests confirmed their benefits during long-range flights. And a secondary rudder has been removed to allow what the company called "more natural" shaping of the aft fuselage. An added benefit was simplification of the airplane's fly-by-wire flight control system. Dassault says final specifications and performance figures will be confirmed after new flight tests. Certification is expected to take place in early 2007 with first deliveries beginning shortly after.