Bigger is better in the booming large-cabin business aircraft segment. Just look at the 200+ orders Gulfstream has for its G650 uber-jet, an aircraft with the largest cabin cross-section of any purpose-built jet in current production.
, though, set an even larger cabin size standard when it introduced its $45 million, 5,200-nm range Falcon 5X at the 2013 NBAA Convention. Compared to the G650, the Falcon 5X has 1 in. more headroom, 2 in. more floor width and equal maximum internal width. Those measurements allow Dassault to claim it will offer the most generous cabin cross-section in a purpose-built business jet when the Falcon 5X enters service in 2017.
The 5X will be the first clean-sheet Falcon Jet in a decade. The airframe shares little in common with the Falcon 7X that entered service in 2007, having a new fuselage, new wing, new engines and new digital flight control system functionality.
The G650's cabin is longer than that of the Falcon 5X, so the big Gulfstream offers 21% more overall interior volume. That's an essential design provision because Gulfstream's flagship has 3 hr. more endurance than the new Falcon Jet, virtually necessitating a forward crew rest area nestled ahead of the front galley. The Falcon 5X will have 1,770 cu. ft. of net cabin volume available for use by passengers, a little less than the G650 with a crew rest compartment but 220 cu. ft. more than the Falcon 7X trijet, currently Dassault's largest aircraft.
But the Falcon 5X isn't intended to compete against the Gulfstream G650 or replace the Falcon 7X. Instead, the French are taking aim at Gulfstream's aging 4,250-nm range G450 and's fuel thirsty 5,500-nm range Global 5000. The Falcon 5X will have a considerably larger cabin than either of those heavy-iron competitors, yet it will weigh less and its wing will have better lift-to-drag characteristics. It also will be fitted with new technology engines than are 10-15% more fuel efficient than current engines having similar thrust output.
The Falcon 5X's more fuel-efficient engines, combined with its lower weight and advanced wing lift-to-drag characteristics should slash fuel consumption by one-third on average compared to competitive aircraft. Dassault also claims the Falcon 5X will have a direct operating cost 30% lower than the G450's and 35% less than that of the Global 5000.
The new Falcon wasn't always to be as large or as long-legged as the final iteration. When Dassault launched initial Falcon SMS (for “super midsize”) design studies in 2006, it was intended to compete against the then hot-selling Bombardier Challenger 300, as well as the Gulfstream G250 (now G280) andLegacy 600 in the super-midsize segment.
But when world financial markets tanked in 2008, demand fizzled for SMS and smaller aircraft. Soon, it became apparent that those markets, and particularly the lighter jets, might not fully recover for a decade or more. The large-cabin market, however, began to rebound as soon as the first green shoots of economic recovery sprouted in 2009.
So, Dassault engineers went back to their CATIA screens and completely revamped the SMS design. By the end of 2009, the SMS had become a much different aircraft. Indeed, it would become the largest and most-advanced Falcon Jet yet built, requiring an investment of well over $1 billion. As such, the Falcon 5X will provide the basis for larger and longer range Falcon Jets into the future.