The Falcon 900LX, certified late last year, is the latest entry in Dassault’s lineup of triengine, wide-body, long-range business jets. It is a popular choice for buyers looking for an ocean-hopping airplane with a big range — 4,750 nm — a fabulous cabin and all the latest safety features.
That kind of range is new for the 900 series, and what enables such numbers are new winglets, the first on a new Falcon jet. These, coupled with a greatly upgraded avionics suite and numerous cabin enhancements, constitute the LX in the name.
For Dassault, elegance is in the DNA. Dassault founder Marcel Dassault famously said that an airplane had to be beautiful to fly well. Surely he wasn’t the first aircraft designer to equate aesthetics with performance, and just as surely he won’t be the last. But one could make a compelling argument that his company’s designs have embodied that ideal like no one else has.
In addition to high style, the Falcon name brings with it the reputation for performance and innovation. The company manufactures not just bizjets but fighter jets as well. It’s also a pioneer in aviation manufacturing processes, it developed the process for computer aided aircraft design, and it has done much to advance the state of the art in avionics and aircraft-human interfaces.
The list of current Falcon jets is as elegant as it is short. In addition to the 900 series, Falcon fields just two other model types, the ultralong-range Falcon 7X with fly-by-wire flight controls and the widebody, twin-engine Falcon 2000EX. The light-large 2000S — a large airplane for a super-midsize price, says Falcon — is slated for certification next year.
Falcon 900LX, Heritage and Design
The most recently certified model to carry the Falcon name into flight is the 900LX, which earned FAA and EASA certification just last year. It is also the first Falcon to earn certification with the new EASy II avionics system. We flew one of the first production models out of Dassault Falcon Jet’s Teterboro, New Jersey, headquarters recently and got the chance to see how Dassault improved the model in a number of ingenious ways.
If you see a Falcon family resemblance in the 900, you’re right. The 900 series airplanes are descended from the first trijet Falcon, the Falcon 50, which was certified in the mid-1970s. At the time the idea of three engines was well within the mainstream; the Boeing 727 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 were both in their prime. Times have changed, however, and nearly every commercial jet design has two engines instead of three — yes, a few very large models have four.
The same trend has been the case with purpose-built bizjets. Even the ultralong-range jets of two of Falcon’s competitors, Gulfstream and Bombardier, manage with two engines, but Dassault has stuck with three, even on its latest design, the 7X.