by Philip Smart
Dassault Aviation’s all-new Falcon 5X made its first flight on 5 July, allowing the ultra wide body twinjet to embark on a limited number of preliminary flight tests before beginning the full-fledged flight test campaign, scheduled to begin next year.
Dassault has high hopes for the 5X. Its 5200 nm range puts most of Asia and all of Japan within non-stop reach of Sydney, with a one fuel stop bringing the United States and India within range. But it’s the 5X’s flexibility that Dassault believes will attract customers in the Asia Pacific; with a balanced field length of just 5250 feet, the 5X will take nine passengers to 51,000 feet, cruise at Mach 0.85 and then fly the destination approach at 105 knots at average weights.
Dassault says that means customers can use more airports, including those with runways of less than 4000 ft at lighter weights, lift more out of them and go further.
The original schedule predicted first delivery this year, but development problems with Snecma’s new Silvercrest engine mean customers will begin to receive the 5X in 2020. The 11,450 lb thrust Silvercrest is billed as the first business aviation engine without required overhaul intervals, designed to allow on-condition rather than periodic inspections.
The 5X’s first flight took place with a preliminary version of the engine, with Snecma committed to providing production engines in 2018. The flight test campaign will help streamline the development process, but flight validation and certification tests will have to wait until Safran delivers certifiable engines meeting Dassault’s specifications in 2018.
“We’re committed to limiting the consequences of the four year engine development delay as much as possible and the short preliminary flight test campaign is part of this effort,” said Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO. “We will closely monitor the validation tests on the modified Silvercrest, which are scheduled by Safran in the few coming months, as their results will be critical for meeting the 5X entry into service in 2020.”