A Bizjet for Barbie

Business Jet Traveler » December 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009 - 4:00am

When French Business Jet maker Dassault wanted a working model of its Falcon 7X flagship trijet to grace the lobby of its headquarters near Paris, it approached Francis Laurens, then an engineer employed by the company. Laurens had already built jet-powered radio-controlled miniatures of Dassault's Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighters but he outdid himself with his 7X, a one-seventh-scale version (roughly the same scale as a Barbie doll) fitted with a single 37.5-pound-thrust jet engine.

The 64-pound aircraft-which, like its big brother, runs on jet-A fuel-features retractable landing gear, a powered entry door and functioning brakes. What sets it apart from other remote-controlled airplanes is the attention to detail, particularly in the cabin, where leather-upholstered seats abut wood-covered tables set with tiny silverware and glasses.

A head turner at model shows, Laurens' 7X (foreground) is now available in kit form for about $20,000 (including radio-control system, landing gear and paint job, but not the custom interior), far less than one-seventh of the $40 million price tag of a real 7X.  

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“When you get into the larger aircraft it becomes like a hotel, with dozens of staff supporting the plane based in a galley area down below. You have very comprehensive cooking facilities, and on larger aircraft we have looked at theatres, with spiral staircases and a Steinway grand piano. The limitations for what you can put inside a plane are pretty much the limits of physics, and even money cannot always overcome that. Even so, people are still always trying to push [the limits]. ”

-Howard Guy of Design Q, a UK-based consultancy