YouTube – Falcon 7X
P & W turbofans
3 x 6,400 lbf. ea.
76 ft. 1 in.
On May 2, 2014, a Falcon 7X, produced by Dassault, set an executive aircraft speed record flying from Teteboro Airport, New York to London City Airport of 5 hours and 54 minutes. The flight was aided by 100 to 115 mph tail winds and the aircraft achieved an average ground speed of about 615 mph. The aircraft used 27,000 lbs. of fuel for the flight.
The Falcon 7X is a long range business jet that can typically seat up to nineteen passengers.
It is the first aircraft in its class to use total fly-by-wire control. Its Digital Flight Control System uses a a side stick controller. The three Pratt & Whitney engines of the aircraft have a 7,200 hour time between overhauls. That’s about 14 years of typical aircraft operation.
The Falcon 7X was produced using computer aided design (CAD) extensively. Its tri-jet engine configuration is unusual for a modern aircraft, with only one other tri-jet in production, also by Dassault Aviation.
The tri-jet engine design is especially beneficial upon takeoff. Twin engine jets must meet take off minimums with half of their power. However, with three engines, if one is lost, the aircraft still has two thirds of its power. The result is that the Falcon 7X needs less total takeoff power than similar twin engine jets, resulting in greater fuel efficiency.
The center engine of the tri-jet design makes the aircraft behave like it has additional tail moment, increasing directional stability, along with rudder and elevator authority. Air flow over the aft fuselage is made smoother, further reducing drag.
The curved windshield of the aircraft provides excellent outward visibility while reducing wind noise and drag.
The high aspect ratio of the Falcon 7X wings and its winglets produce lift while reducing drag. No other Falcon jet produced by Dassault has its winglets.
The cabin of the Falcon 7X is pressurized to 3,950 feet at an altitude of 41,000 feet. The cabin air is constantly being refreshed and humidified, while the interior air temperature is maintained within one degree. The interior design of the aircraft won the 2009 “Good Design Award” from the Chicago Athenaeum and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design.
The Falcon 7X uses trailing link main landing gear, unlike other Falcon aircraft. This allows for longer landing gear travel. The aircraft also has the largest wheels and tires fitted to Falcon aircraft. This makes for smoother landings and taxiing.
The heavy duty landing gear combined with the airframe strength of the Falcon 7X give it a high maximum landing weight. The aircraft can set down with a maximum weight of 62,400 lbs. vs. its 69,000 lbs. maximum takeoff weight. The results is that you do not have to burn down large quantities of fuel before landing, making shorter trips possible.
Pilots report that the computerized flight systems of the aircraft allow for smooth and stable flight until the autopilot or human pilots take over. The computers compensate for diversions of the aircraft from its altitude, speed, and heading due to turbulence, cross winds, or wind gusts. The wing of the aircraft itself, being long and flexible, smooths the ride of the aircraft.
The sidestick controls of the Falcon 7X fall easily at hand. They smooth control inputs with rather long directional movements. Unlike a fighter aircraft, that responds to minimal stick pressure, it takes a conscious effort to move the control stick of the Falcon 7X. The stick will return to its center position if you release it. There is no linking of the pilot and co-pilot control sticks. If both pilots try to use the sticks at once, the sticks will shake as a reminder that only one can be used at a time. There is an override switch to give one stick preference over the other.
The Falcon 7X needs no trim correction from take off to when the aircraft is on its designated flight path. Pressure on the stick is relaxed and the automated controls ensure that the aircraft is correctly trimmed, even while making large changes in air speed. That allows the pilot to concentrate on where the aircraft is heading rather than trimming it to fly more efficiently.
Unique to the Falcon 7X is its rudder pedal control of nose wheel steering. Other Falcon aircraft use tiller control. While taxiing, there are sixty degrees of nose wheel movement. However, during takeoff and landing, movement is dampened to avoid swerving. Removing your feet from the pedals will ensure that the jet tracks in a straight line.
Unlike other jets, the autothrottle of the Falcon 7X is not used for takeoff. For takeoff, the throttles are moved to their most forward positions. Takeoff power is computer controlled. Once level flight is achieved, speed can be selected for the autothrottle system to maintain.
While maneuvering the aircraft, if stick pressure is released during a steep bank, the aircraft will keep a constant bank angle of about thirty degrees. However, holding the stick full over can produce a roll rate of 60 degrees per second.
The flight control system of the Falcon 7X limits the amount of elevator control to avoid airframe stress and stall. Pulling on the stick when their isn’t enough speed to avoid a stall will produce a warning sound along with a message flash. Keeping back pressure on the stick will result in the deploying of wing slats and the addition of power if autothrottle is engaged. If autothrottle isn’t engaged, the nose of the aircraft will be lowered by reducing elevator deflection so that safe flight can be maintained.
When encountering wind shear, a maximum safe angle of attack can be maintained by holding the stick fully back and adding full power.
Lowering the nose by pushing the stick forward on the airplane will result in the autothrottle reducing speed to within safe limits. The nose will raise automatically through upward elevator deflection should throttle reduction fail to keep the aircraft flying safely.
Upon its introduction, the price of the Falcon 7X was approximately 20% lower than other aircraft in its class. Today, after several price increases, its price is comparable to its competition.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) both granted type certification to the Falcon 7X for sale by Dassault on April 27, 2007.
After “an uncontrolled pitch trim runaway during descent” of a Falcon 7X in May of 2011 EASA grounded the aircraft. It was found to be caused by a defect in the electronic flight controls for the horizontal stabilizer. Dassault developed a fix for the problem and the grounding was rescinded in about one month.
Over 270 Falcon 7X aircraft have been produced to date.
Aviation Design has the Falcon 7X in 1:7 scale. It has a 150 in. wingspan with a 138 in. length and weighs around 70 lbs. It features a two piece glass fibre fuse, carbon reinforced glass fibre wings and horizontal stabilizers, with an aluminum wing joiner tube. A single center jet turbine engine with from 36 to 40 lbf. thrust can power it.