PRE-OWNED SPOTLIGHT: Dassault Falcon 8X
The flagship of Dassault aviation’s business jet line is the falcon 8x. The large cabin, ultra-long-range aircraft entered service in 2016 and is the largest Dassault aircraft in production, with the longest range.
Flying 6,450nm (11,945km) and powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307Ds, the three-engine 8X can fly non-stop from Beijing to Los Angeles, Shanghai to Seattle and Hong Kong to London. The 8X’s tri-engine means there are less constraints on the aircraft, compared with the those on extended twin-engine operations (ETOPs). For example, a three-engine aircraft flying from Sydney to Santiago, Chile is permitted to have a flight path that is 1,000nm shorter than what a twin-engine aircraft is permitted to fly.
An improved design of the wings allows the aircraft to be up to 30% more fuel-efficient than other aircraft in its size category, attributed to a much lower maximum take-off weight (MTOW) than its competitors. The 8X’s MTOW is 73,000lbs compared to around 100,000lbs for similar existing models.
The 8X, like the 7X, has tremendous short take-off and landing capabilities and can operate in ‘hot and high’ flying conditions. It is capable of steep approaches up to six degrees, allowing it to serve challenging airports such as London City Airport and Lugano, Switzerland.
The aircraft’s cabin is 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 meters) high, 7 feet 8 inches (2.34m) wide and 42 feet 8 inches (13 meters) long and offers high levels of customization.
Inside the cabin, passengers can stay connected with FalconConnect, a system that makes use of the advances in satellite technology allowing for the use of personal devices on board the aircraft for phone calls, messaging, video streaming and more.
In the cockpit, the 8X features a new Enhanced Avionics System (EASy), jointly developed by Dassault Aviation and Honeywell, as well as Honeywell’s next generation 3D color weather radar system with enhanced turbulence detection capability. The new FalconEye is also available on the 8X. This is the world’s first civil certified head up vision system (HUD) that combines synthetic vision – data-based terrain mapping – with enhanced vision. This combined vision system (CVS) gives pilots better situational awareness in poor weather - such as fog, mist and snow — during the day and night. In October, the European Aviation Safety Agency and US FAA certified the 8X to use FalconEye for poor visibility approaches down to 100ft. This new capability greatly expands the number of airports the aircraft can serve in bad weather conditions. Dassault is also aiming to achieve certification in 2020 for a dual-HUD option that allows pilots to land the aircraft without using natural vision to see the runway.
The pre-owned market for the 8X is still in its infancy. 2016 saw five deliveries, while 2017 and 2018 witnessed 21 and 16, respectively. Deliveries dropped in 2019, with only four delivered to new clients thus far. The worldwide Falcon 8X fleet in operation stands at 46, with only 1 available for sale — listed by AvPro with a ‘Make Offer’ pricing. An additional 12 aircraft were ordered and are currently with the manufacturer, with no date yet on when those will be delivered. Most of the operational fleet is based in Europe.
The 8X’s flight activity in 2019 Q1, within the Asia Pacific, was situated in Southeast Asia and India, where Dassault Aviation is expanding its presence through the support of its recent acquisition of ExecuJet’s maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at Subang Airport in Malaysia.
Competing against the 8X in the ultra-long-range size category is the Gulfstream G550 and Bombardier Global 6000. The 8X has slightly smaller cabin than the G550 and the Global 6000. It also falls short of the maximum range of both the G550 and Global 6000. However, the annual operating cost — variable, fixed and hourly — is significantly less with the 8X than its competitors.
8X buyers will typically be attracted to the aircraft’s technology, not only in the cockpit and onboard, but with its impressive tri-jet configuration, which may be enough for owners to forgive the smaller cabin and reduced range.