FAA Proposes "Special Conditions" For Dassault's Falcon 7X

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As a precursor to final U.S. type certification, the FAA this week published the proposed "special conditions" under which it intends to certify Dassault's forthcoming Falcon 7X trijet. In its statement, the FAA noted the 7X will have "novel or unusual design features" not envisioned in its existing airworthiness standards for transport category airplanes, thus requiring the special conditions. The agency said those features include "side stick controllers, electronic flight control systems, and flight envelope protections," and added that it does not have a regulatory framework in place to ensure appropriate safety standards for these design features. However, rather than an indication of new obstacles to Dassault's type certification of the 7X, the FAA's statement is both a normal action for the agency to take when presented with an advanced aircraft or engine to certify. Basically, the set of special conditions is a good sign that Dassault is that much closer to certifying the 7X.

Earlier, the airframer told analysts it had received a total of 158 firm orders worldwide for its business jets in 2006, including a $1.1 billion contract from NetJets Europe for 24 copies of the Falcon 7X, the largest order ever for business jets in Europe. Falcon business jets accounted for 62% of total Dassault sales in 2006, according to the company, and had a total backlog of more than 300 aircraft. Over 80 aircraft will be delivered in 2007 compared to 61 in 2006. According to Dassault, the Falcon 7X flight test and certification program accumulated 1520 flight test hours and 543 flights and is now complete. Certification from both the EASA and FAA are expected soon with first deliveries in the second quarter of 2007. The FAA's statement of special conditions set March 28, 2007, as the deadline by which comments on the 7X's certification standards should be submitted to the agency.