Dassault Aviation is on track to conduct the first test flight of its Falcon 6X jet in early 2021, despite challenges caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
The first of the three pre-production aircraft that will take part in flight certification has been powered up and has entered ground testing. Aircraft no. 2 and 3 are in advanced stages of assembly and long cycle parts production for serialized production has already begun. Certification and entry into service are set for 2022, in keeping with the original timetable.
The second aircraft recently had its wings mated to the fuselage and the third aircraft is in the early stages of final assembly. Each will be heavily instrumented and, like aircraft no. 1, will be capable of performing aerodynamic, performance and systems testing.
Aircraft no. 3 will receive a full interior to evaluate systems functionality, acoustics, airflow, comfort and other factors. Interior furnishings, environmental systems, electronics and other equipment are currently being tested in a ground test rig prior to installation on the aircraft.
Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier said, “Bringing the Falcon 6X to market on schedule is a top priority for the company. Our planning and production staff have been diligent and resourceful in adapting procedures to new sanitary guidelines to keep this program running smoothly.
“Our suppliers have also made extraordinary efforts to support us. We are grateful to them all.”
Electric, hydraulic and fuel system tests have been completed and testing of the Falcon 6X’s advanced digital flight control system have begun. Ground fatigue and damage tolerance testing has also been initiated. This test cycle will later be extended to include stress testing to maximum load limits and beyond.
The Falcon 6X features the largest cabin cross section of any purpose-built business jet at 6ft 6in tall by 8ft 6in wide and its 5,500 nautical mile range capability allows it to connect routes such as Paris to Tokyo or Los Angeles to Moscow.
The new twinjet is also equipped with a Digital Flight Control System (DFCS) which controls all moving surfaces including a new multifunction control area called a flaperon, adapted from Dassault fighter aircraft.
Engine program also on target
Assembly of the Falcon 6X’s engines and nacelles is also ramping up, in parallel with aircraft production.
The aircraft’s advanced Pratt & Whitney Canada PW812D engine completed an initial airborne test campaign earlier this year aboard Pratt & Whitney’s Boeing 747 testbed aircraft and a second series of flight tests are scheduled this summer. To date the PW812D has accumulated over 200 hours in the air and more than 1,600 hours on the ground. It has also completed initial certification tests, including bird strike, ice ingestion and blade-off tests.
The PW1200G core engine shared by the PW812D has accumulated more than 16,000 hours running time. The PW800 series exceeds ICAO standards for NOx emissions by a double-digit margin and generates ultra-low levels of unburned hydrocarbons and smoke. The PW812D will meet future CO2 regulations and achieve Stage 4 noise requirements with significant margin.
Production operations at Dassault’s Bordeaux-Merignac, France main assembly facility are now back to normal after a brief disruption due to the Covid-19 crisis. The company used the time to devise safer procedures with smaller crews on the production floor, now working once again in two shifts.
The Dassault flight test team is currently coordinating with EASA and the FAA to finalize the flight test and validation program.