Very discreetly and seven weeks after it officially rolled off the Merignac assembly lines near Bordeaux (south western France), the Dassault Aviation Falcon 8X undertook its first flight.
On 6th February, the prototype carried out a two-hour flight during which the two test pilots on board were able to retract the landing gear, check the flying qualities of the new business tri-jet, climb to 12,000 metres (39,000 feet) altitude, and reach speeds of 980 km/h (610 mph) before returning it to its point of departure with a smooth landing. A new milestone for the French manufacturer.
Eric Trappier, Chief Executive Officer - Dassault Aviation
« The first flight is an opportunity to show that the aircraft and its development are on schedule, we will now continue through the other stages, those of qualification and certification. Entry into service which will take place in the second half 2016, followed by delivery to our customers. »
On the military side, Egypt is close to concluding a financial plan for 24 Rafale’s with a contract value of 3.5 billion Euros. Qatar is also interested in acquiring 24 to 36 Rafales. Finally, the finalisation date of the Indian contract for 126 aircraft, which Dassault has been hard at work on since 2012, and now in excess of 15,000 pages, still remains hard to determine.
Today the main challenge is to resolve who will be responsable for the construction of the 108 units to be manufactured in India. As guarantors, Dassault logically wants control and verification measures put in place of the Indian teams that will be in charge of the insitu production of the fighter. A conundrum for all concerned.