Dassault Unveils Falcon 6X
Dassault released details on its newest business jet, the Falcon 6X, during a recent day-long technical briefing. The latest model is a replacement for the 5X, a project canceled due to multiple delays in the development of its proposed Snecma Silvercrest engines. The 6X will have Pratt & Whitney Canada PW812D ("D" for Dassault) engines. The 13,000- to 14,000-pound-thrust PW800 family has logged more than 20,000 test hours. It has also been selected to power the Gulfstream G500, with the PurePower PW814GA, and the G600 with the PW815GA.
“I had no choice [but] to stop the 5X program and find the best possible engine,” chairman and CEO Eric Trappier told reporters gathered in the company’s Le Bourget hangar, where he unveiled a large model of the 6X. He revealed that in 2015 and 2016 Dassault engineers began developing a Plan B for the Falcon 5X when the Silvercrest engine started experiencing problems with its high-pressure compressor. As the troubles intensified, the company took the opportunity to design an aircraft with more range and more space. Olivier Villa, Dassault’s senior vice president of civil aircraft, told BJT sister publication Aviation International News, "We talked with Pratt & Whitney Canada, and they modified their engine somewhat for us. And we adapted the airplane to match the engine."
The engines are far from the only change. The new twinjet will have a 20-inch-larger cabin, enabling either a larger aft lounge area or a choice of larger forward galley or a crew rest area. The 6X will also have a 300-nautical-mile range increase over the 5X (to 5,500 nautical miles). First deliveries are scheduled for 2022. As for commonality with the 5X, Villa said, “Much of the systems architecture will be retained—the fly-by-wire system is one step beyond that of the 8X—and there will be some commonality in the cockpit and the empennage. But otherwise, it is a thorough redesign.”
For example, he said, though the aerodynamics of the wings remain, heavier loads required significant changes. “There are no common parts,” Villa said. He added that the extra fuel required for the additional range caused Dassault to switch to a nitrogen-based fuel pressurization system. “We were first to have a pressurized fuel system, which is safer for crossfeeding. And our experience with military aircraft led us to add a nitrogen system for the 6X. It’s a first for a business jet, and the ultimate in fuel system safety,” he said.
“It wasn’t something we wished,” said Villa of the 6X program, “but we’re excited by the capability, and customers have responded enthusiastically.”
UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS) will supply the nacelle system for the 6X, including an inlet, fan cowls, thrust reverser, and an engine build-up system. “This program will enable us to bring the many new nacelle system technology advancements we’ve developed and matured for large commercial aircraft over the last 15 years to the business and corporate jet market,” said UTAS Aerostructures president Marc Duvall.
Trappier noted that most customers switched from the 5X to 7X and 8X as they “didn’t want to wait,” but some are in contract negotiations now to switch to the 6X. He expects some to be finalized in “the next few days.” The price will be about the same as the 5X: $47 million “in 2018 economic conditions.”
Ian Sheppard and Guillaume LeCompte-Boinet contributed to this article.