Dassault’s new flagship Falcon 8X is making its North American public debut at NBAA 2015. The number six aircraft in the program left the airframer’s Mérignac assembly line in France and detoured to Las Vegas for the show’s static display, before heading to Little Rock for completion, where two other 8Xs are already being worked on. Collectively, the three 8Xs have logged 380 hours over 185 flights and, according to Dassault, are more than two thirds of the way towards FAA and EASA certification. The flight envelope for the new ultra-long-range (6,450 nm) trijet has been fully opened, with the first aircraft recently having attained a speed of Mach 0.97. The French manufacturer’s engineering teams are also well into the process for validating the 8X’s third-generation EASy flight deck.
As it prepares for 8X service entry in the second half of 2016, Dassault will expand its Falcon Cabin Familiarization Training program to include the new model. The one-day sessions are tailored to individual aircraft operating requirements and are aimed at pilots, flight attendants and owners.
“Activity has been slowing down this year,” said Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier, as he addressed a press conference, following a moment of silence in memory of the violence suffered in Paris on Friday. “The difficult situations of Brazilian and Russian activity have impacted our 7X and 8X sales.”
Likewise, he noted that while strong potential in the Chinese market remains, many possible customers are still postponing their purchase decisions. Whereas in 2011, the BRIC countries represented 50 percent of Dassault Falcon’s orders, in 2015 that number has dwindled to below 15 percent, according to Dassault Falcon president and CEO John Rosanvallon. Increasing activity in the more mature U.S. and European markets has led to stronger sales for the Falcon 2000S and 2000LXS models. This week, the company’s completion center in Little Rock will see the grand opening of a new 250,000-sq-ft facility dedicated to completion of the airframer’s large-cabin offerings. Regarding the new Falcon 5X model, Trappier noted that delays with the Snecma Silvercrest engine altered the aircraft’s development timeline, at this point pushing the first flight of the new super-midsize twinjet into the beginning of next year.