Dassault Aims High and Long with Falcon 10X

 - May 6, 2021, 11:20 AM

Dassault has formally launched the Falcon 10X, a 7,500-nm competitor to the Bombardier Global 7500 and Gulfstream G700, adding the French manufacturer to the ranks of ultra-long-range business jet manufacturers. The 10X is expected to be certified and enter service in 2025.

“Today we are introducing a new benchmark in business aviation,” said Dassault chairman and CEO Eric Trappier. “The 10X will offer an unrivaled passenger experience over both short- and long-duration flights, along with breakthrough safety features derived from frontline fighter technology. We have optimized every aspect of the aircraft with the passenger in mind and established a new level of capability for ultra-long-range aircraft.”

Powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce Pearl 10X turbofans, the 10X has a 2,780-cu-ft cabin that sets it apart from competitors, boasting the largest cross-section of a purpose-built business jet with an interior width of 9 feet 1 inch and height of 6 feet 8 inches. By comparison, the G700 cabin measures 8 feet 2 inches wide and 6 feet 3 inches tall; the Global 7500 is 8 feet wide and 6 feet 2 inches high. All three jets’ cabin volume is nearly similar at around 2,700 cu ft. While the Global 7500’s published range is 200 nm longer, all three have price tags of around $75 million (2021 dollars for the 10X).

Dassault is leveraging its experience manufacturing composite wings for the Rafale fighter jet, and the 10X’s highly swept wing will be made of carbon-fiber composite materials. The 10X will be Dassault’s first commercial airplane with composite wings, although the company did extensive flight testing of a Falcon 10 with a composite wing from 1985 to 2005.

A big change on the 10X is the T-tail configuration of the empennage, a switch away from the distinctive-looking cruciform and downward-canted horizontal stabilizers on earlier Falcons.

Falcon 10X
The 10X's T-tail configuration is a new design element for a Falcon jet.

Also new for the 10X is an addition to the digital flight control system (DFCS), the single power-lever Smart Throttle that was tested extensively during a 7X flight-test campaign last year. Adding the Smart Throttle to the DFCS will enable the addition of Recovery Mode, a new feature for Falcon jets.

The Smart Throttle in the DFCS provides complete control of all aspects of fly-by-wire flight control and the Fadec-controlled engines, which makes Recovery Mode possible. What Recovery Mode does is return the 10X to stable flight after an upset in any configuration, when the pilot pushes the Recovery button on the instrument panel. This is a step up from envelope protection, which can help prevent overspeed or stall and other excursions, and it’s more comprehensive than the level buttons in some modern autopilots.

Incorporation of the Recovery Mode may also lead to addition of an Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (AGCAS), which can automatically recover the aircraft if its trajectory is headed toward collision with the ground. The single power lever, Recovery Mode, and AGCAS are standard on Dassault's Rafale fighter.

The 10X’s DFCS has additional features, including a soft go-around and “comfort” climb and descent, designed to make passengers more comfortable during maneuvering. The Smart Throttle also helps facilitate improvements for reduced-thrust takeoffs and noise-abatement procedures. For example, variable friction allows virtual “notches” to be set to simplify power settings for specific conditions. Also built into the Smart Throttle are airbrake and thrust reverser controls. Separate controls allow the pilot to control each engine individually, for example, after a birdstrike makes it necessary to set the damaged engine for minimum vibration.

Pilots will be able to keep the autopilot and autothrottle engaged for maximum-performance maneuvers such as windshear escape and TCAS resolution. The autothrottle will be useable until touchdown.

Avionics Upgrades

Touchscreen instrument panel displays simplify the pilot interface, which is an updated version of the Honeywell Primus Epic-based avionics that have long been a Falcon staple. There is a new graphical flight management system, with phase-of-flight modes that make flight planning and management much simpler, similar to what Gulfstream has done in the G500 through G700. Simplified checklists include auto-sensing of many switch positions to help improve efficiency.

In addition to four 14-inch touchscreen displays, the flight deck will also have four nine-inch supplemental touchscreens for features such as the FalconSphere electronic flight bag and other functions. The overhead panel is much smaller, with many switches and controls relegated to the touchscreen displays. Cursor control devices remain in place, providing an alternative control mechanism, either for pilots who prefer that to touchscreens or for when turbulence makes using touchscreens difficult.

Falcon 10X
Dual FalconEye HUDs and Smart Throttle are key features in the 10X's flight deck.

Dassault is anticipating a potential need for reduced crew operations, which could be one pilot flying while the other rests and only two pilots flying long-range trips. Thus, the flight deck design reflects this concept, with the pilot seats able to be fully reclined to facilitate extended minimum crew operations, allowing one pilot to sleep in place while the other operates the aircraft. This would be allowed only above FL200, and Dassault has already begun discussions with regulators on how this capability can be certified.

The FalconEye head-up display (HUD) and enhanced flight vision system will take on a new role, doubling as primary instruments. That means the pilot will be able to refer solely to the HUD without having to look at the head-down displays, and this opens up panel display real estate for other uses. Dassault expects to have EVS-to-land capability with FalconEye, allowing landings to touchdown and rollout in poor visibility with no natural vision outside the aircraft.

Rolls-Royce Engines

The Pearl 10X represents the first time a Falcon will be powered by a Rolls-Royce engine. For the new jet, the Pearl 10X will produce more than 18,000 pounds of thrust while delivering 5 percent lower specific fuel consumption compared to earlier-generation engines.

The engine features a bladed-disk (blisk) fan design and a 10-stage compressor with six stages of blisks. An ultra-low-emissions combustor cuts noise and emissions, and a two-stage high-pressure turbine has a shroudless blade design. Testing will include running on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Pearl 10X
The Pearl 10X will be the first Rolls-Royce engine powering a Falcon business jet.

Spirit AeroSystems will build the laminar-flow nacelle system, which along with the 10X engine will be trialed on Rolls-Royce’s Boeing 747-400 flying testbed. Rolls-Royce will maintain a digital twin of the engine to track its performance, including capture of more than 9,000 parameters. Rolls-Royce’s engine health monitoring will provide advanced diagnostics and alerts, as well as two-way communication between the engine and support operations.

With an mtow of 115,000 pounds, the 10X will carry 51,700 pounds of fuel and have a payload of 6,500 pounds. At Mach 0.85, the 10X will be able to achieve its 7,500-nm range (all performance figures are preliminary). Maximum operating speed will be Mach 0.925, but the 10X will still be able to take off at maximum weight with a balanced field length of less than 6,000 feet and perform steep approaches. Landing distance is projected to be less than 2,500 feet.

Cabin Features

With so much cabin space, the goal based on customer feedback was to give passengers the feel of a high-end penthouse. Dassault designers are working on various configurations with up to four lounges, including a full bathroom with shower, private cinema, and VIP master suite with an optional 60-inch queen-sized bed and its own bathroom.

The large kitchen has two windows, a chiller, oven, and microwave. A forward lavatory and crew-rest area allow for crew privacy. In the dining area, an optional table with four individual seats allows passengers to exit their seat without disturbing seatmates. Passenger seats will have an available full-recline option akin to first-class seating on airliners.

Falcon 10X
Individual seats at the dining table allow passengers to leave the table without disturbing their neighbors.

There is enough room in the four-club lounge area for individual tables, with no worries about passengers interfering with each other, as well as ample storage space. Three options are available for the aft lavatory, including one with a stand-up shower.

Falcon 10X
The long aft bathroom option has a stand-up shower.

The 10X will have a 3,000-foot cabin altitude at 41,000 feet and air filtered by ozone and VOC filters. Windows are 50 percent larger than those in the 8X, and there are 38 in the 10X’s long fuselage.