By Sylvie Péron
Dassault Aviation is celebrating 60 years of building business jets with an all-new model that combines the latest in technology with traditional Dassault virtues. In 1963, the company introduced the Falcon 20, which was unique in a burgeoning field of business jets because it packaged cabin comfort with fighter jet derived control systems and construction techniques. It was fast, strong, reliable, and a pilot’s dream thanks to superior handling qualities.
Now along comes the 6X with Dassault’s most advanced digital flight control system and arguably business aviation’s most comfortable cabin. It has the largest cross section of any purpose-built business jet at 1,98 meter tall and 2,58 meters wide, and award-winning interior styling (Red Dot Award and the International Yacht & Aviation Award) that is all fluid lines and practical furnishings. According to all the pilots within Dassault who have flown it—test pilots and line pilots—it is the best handling Falcon ever, which is saying something for a line of aircraft long admired for precise controls. In short, Dassault’s formula–merging fighter jet DNA with a focus on passenger comfort and productivity–has not changed. The 6X was certified on August 22, 2023 by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) followed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Certification followed a two-year test campaign during which 1,500 flight hours were logged worldwide. The campaign included a 50-stop, 50,000 nm round-the-world tour to assure maturity of cabin and other systems.
The 6X found ice over Scandinavia, was cold soaked in Artic Canada to -37°C, baked in the Tunisian desert in high summer, plowed through deep water on the runway at the UK’s Cranfield flight research center, and operated from the 2,765 m elevation runway in Telluride, Colorado. In the coming weeks, the first production units with completed interiors will enter service with customers in Europe and the Middle East. Dassault is ready to support them with fully trained staff at Dassault Aviation Business Services in Geneva and ExecuJet MRO in Dubai, with more service locations following shortly. CAE in Burgess Hill, UK will train pilots in its latest 7000XR-series simulator for the 6X, offering extreme visual realism, and including upset recovery training. The 6X retains efficiency by the careful integration of a large cabin and a highly optimized, all-new wing. It is equipped with ‘flaperons’ (combined flaps. and ailerons), inherited from fighter jets. This system is located in the center of the trailing edge of the wing.
Among its benefits, it allows steep approaches without excessive speed. The flaperons and all the moving surfaces of the wing are managed by digital flight controls. Even nosewheel steering is integrated into the digital flight control system for precise runway tracking in all conditions. Dassault’s revolutionary FalconEye combined vision system is standard on the 6X, providing enhanced safety and situational awareness on approaches at night or in poor weather conditions. The 6X will also be the first Falcon equipped with FalconScan, a new advanced diagnostics system, which monitors and reports on thousands of maintenance parameters for quicker response to maintenance events. As with all Falcons, the 6X offers superior operating flexibility, including short-field capability. The Falcon 6X’s ability to make lowspeed approaches (109 kts-202 km/h) allows the aircraft to operate to and from convenient airfields such as London City Airport, or Lugano in Switzerland.
The Falcon 6X is powered by a pair of new-generation Pratt & Whitney PW812D engines, which will provide double-digit improvements in fuel efficiency and carbon emissions. The 6X carries 33,790 pounds of fuel, giving it a maximum range of 5,500 nm at Mach .80 carrying eight passengers and three crew. Maximum speed is Mach .90. Its intercontinental range allows it to fly from London to Hong Kong or Los Angeles to Geneva nonstop. Cabin altitude is a low 1,188-meters at FL410, which contributes to feeling better rested after long flights. A variety of interior configurations are possible with 12- to 14-passenger layouts. A skylight in the galley (a first in business aviation) helps bring more natural light into a sometimes hard to illuminate area of the cabin. Larger windows than in previous Falcon models line the cabin, improving views and natural interior light. The 4.4 m3 baggage compartment is accessible in flight, with another 23 m3 of unpressurized baggage space.
The 6X continues Dassault’s tradition of flexibility, allowing short flights followed by long-range flights without refueling. In one example given by Dassault, the 6X can complete a five-stop, round-robin trip without refueling. It starts and finishes in London, with stops in Geneva, Rome, Warsaw, Poland, and Stockholm. Another example has the 6X flying a “short hop” and then another 6,195 km (3,850 nm) unrefueled. First deliveries of the 6X are expected to debut soon.