Dassault Aviation Announces New Falcon 6X
Just a couple of months ago, fans of Dassault aircraft were left incredibly disappointed by some bad news. The Falcon 5X was initially scheduled for a release way back in 2013. The company went as far as to showcase the design at the National Business Aviation Association convention, with the Silvercrest turbofan engine slated for a release later that year.
But the engines never came. Technical issues led to one delay. Then another. And another.
In December 2017, the bad news finally broke. The Falcon 5X was being canceled. Dassault is set to enter negotiations with Safran in an attempt to recoup losses incurred from the time invested in the design. Not to mention the 12 Falcon 5X orders which were canceled completely.
The Falcon 6X
But just as one mode’s life came to a premature end, another was born. Dassault has announced plans for the Falcon 6X, seeking to fill the gap that the 5X would have filled. And this time, they intend to deliver.
Unsurprisingly, Dassault will be looking elsewhere for an engine this time around. The Falcon 6X will incorporate a PW800-series engine from Pratt & Whitney Canada. Far from settling for second best, the company claims this will result in the “quietest and most comfortable cabin” relative to the long-range category. Not only that, but it will have “more cabin volume than any other Falcon ever designed”.
These substantial changes mean that the arrival date is, quite understandably, being pushed back to 2021, with deliveries expected the following year. These, along with a greater range, are the most significant new design aspects. But in the main, the new aircraft borrows heavily from the designs of the Falcon 5X.
“Push the boundaries”
As the similar names of the models suggest, the Falcon 6X is a massive upgrade on the 5X. But at the surface of it, the two are largely similar.
“We wanted to further push the boundaries with this new aircraft, to provide the best flight experience possible using today’s aviation know-how,” said the Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, Eric Trappier. “The Falcon 6X will offer a mix of range, comfort and capability no other large-cabin business jet can match while guaranteeing fully mature systems and a proven power plant.”
Trappier’s comments seem to suggest that the Falcon 6X is trying to tick as many boxes as possible with a “mix” of positives, whilst also achieving things other aircraft cannot. So how do the numbers match up?
First of all, the range. The 6X will be capable of 5,500 nm. That’s a modest yet relevant upgrade on the projected range of the 5X, which clocked in at 5,200 nm. Importantly, it’s also more than any other long-range jet available today.
Speed, range and comfort
The FX also boasts a top speed of Mach 0.90. That’s more than the Bombardier Global 6000. And not much less than the likes of the Gulfstream G650 at 0.925, or the Cessna Citation X at 0.935. In fact, the Gulfstream comparison becomes even more relevant when you take into account the thrust. At 13,000 – 14,000 lbs, the engine is a match of the one that supports both the Gulfstream G500 and G600.
The 6X also shares a range of features that can be found in the 7X and 8X. Namely, the advanced fly-by-wire control system and high-end cockpit functionality will all be incorporated. The cockpit itself is brand new, though. It’s fitted out with all the trimmings including the FalconSphere II electronic flight bag, FalconEye Combined Vision System, and a basis of the third generation EASy III digital flight deck.
As mentioned before, the cabin has been designed with size in mind. It’s 6’6” high and 8’6” wide, and stretches a total of 40ft 8” in length. All in all, that’s plenty of room for 16 passengers. The cabin is even split into three separate areas, allowing a degree of privacy within the aircraft, and the seating itself is spacious too.
These changes are far from arbitrary. Dassault Aviation carried out extensive customer research to pinpoint what matters most to its customers. That’s why no fewer than 29 extra-large windows have been fitted to ensure there’s a lot of natural light flooding in. And the first-ever galley skylight in the bizjet sector. It’s what Trappier calls a “passenger-centric” design:
“The industry has been moving towards ever wider and higher interiors, and customers told us what they wanted most in our new Falcons was more space. So, we designed the Falcon 6X from the cabin out, making it as passenger-centric as we could while still delivering the high performance and other flying qualities that customers value in Falcons.”
Much of this is obvious. The spacious seats and brightly lit cabins are clear as soon as you step onto the aircraft. But there are also things you might not notice which are just as important. For instance, it’s easy to remember an uncomfortably turbulent ride. But would you remember a lack of turbulence?
Dassault are hoping you will. Not only is the wing built to reduce turbulence but the 6X is the first aircraft of its category to include a flaperon. This helps navigation upon approach and, in particular, helps level out any steep landings. The result, in theory at least, is a very smooth flight.
It is understandable that fans of Dassault may have been disheartened by the recent setbacks. People had waited years for the 5X only for it to be unceremoniously dumped due to issues with the engine. But it’s tough to maintain that disappointment when you look at the potential of the Falcon 6X.
In more than one way, the 6X is looking to do things that have never been done in the long-range category. If they don’t suffer the same delays as before, the 6X could prove to be a very important model for the market.