On 17th December, the first Falcon 8X, destined for flight testing, will roll off the production line at Merignac (near Bordeaux, South West France). For the occasion, Dassault Aviation has invited some 200 people, mostly customers.
After its maiden flight next spring, the prototype, crammed with wall to wall test instrumentation, will fly to Istres (close to Marseille, southern France) where it will carry out its flight test programme. Meanwhile other 8X’s will leave the assembly line in 2016 to be fitted out at the largest of the group’s plants at Little Rock in Arkansas, which specialises in aircraft interiors.
This is where, since 1975, Dassault Aviation has completed the interiors to most of its business jets. The site was not chosen at random, with 30% of Falcon sales in the United States, the US market is the most important for the French manufacturer.
It was for this reason, and to be able to receive the Falcon 8X and 5X in early 2016, that work on extensions began in September. € 45 million were invested to bring the total area of this site up to nearly 120,000 m2 (almost 1,300,000 sq.ft.). Everything here, from the furniture and seat coverings, to upholstery, is handmade; this is the haute-couture of the aviation world, requiring four to six months’ work for each ‘plane.
The final stage at Little Rock is the paint shop before delivery to the customer.
With the resumption of the business aviation market in the United States, Dassault Aviation expects to sell several hundred units of these two new jets. Marketing of the 8X is scheduled for late 2016, with the 5X in 2017.