Roll out the 6X


Aircraft rollouts have changed over the years. In the good old days, workers would down hammers push the aircraft out of the hangar and celebrate with beers. This is the origin of the song Roll out the barrel.

Now, it appears to be a certification requirement that an aircraft cannot be launched without interpretive dancers, smoke machines and laser-light shows. Dassault wanted to do justice to its new Falcon 6X, despite Covid-19, so this week it hosted the first ever e-rollout of an aircraft.

“Instead of violins at Versailles, the virus has put us in the virtual world,” said Miles O’Brien, the science broadcaster and pilot, who flitted between the Charles Lindbergh Hall at Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport and the 6X mock-up in Paris Le Bourget.

Covid has hit audio visual companies and performing artists hard, so it was great that one Bordeaux firm got to provide some video walls and fancy lights. Although social distancing rules meant that only one dancer got this gig. He did a great job before Dassault cut to the test pilots escorting the 6X out in formation.

As you can see, the Falcon 6X looks good on the outside. But Dassault is pitching the three-zone large cabin hard. It has 6ft 6in (1.98m) of headroom and is 8ft 6in (2.58m) wide. It can carry up to 16 passengers.

“The Falcon 6X cabin is the largest by width and by height in its class,” said Carlos Brana, Executive Vice President, civil aircraft, Dassault Aviation. He and O’Brien demonstrated the cabin’s width by removing their face masks to talk.

Brana also riled his competitors by adding: “More importantly, when it will be transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas, to get its completion done, the team over there will make it the classiest cabin in the world.” Perhaps this means passengers must wear cravats.

 As well as large windows the Falcon 6X also has a cool skylight above the galley.

The Falcon 6X will have an impressive maximum range of 5,500 nm (10,186 km) at Mach 0.80 or 5,100 nm (9,445 km) at Mach 0.85. This means that it can fly from Los Angeles to Geneva; São Paulo to London; Beijing to San Francisco; or Moscow to Singapore.

It will also have short-field take-off and landing capabilities. So will be able to fly into London City, Lugano, Saint-Tropez, Aspen and other challenging airports.

Test flights will start in 2021, with Dassault hoping to get the aircraft certificated in 2022. Hopefully by then it can have an in-person delivery ceremony.

Dassault deserves credit for celebrating the rollout virtually and it has been viewed more than 30,000 times already (you can see it here). As O’Brien said: “A roll-out is more than just an event on the calendar. It is the manifestation of so many years of hard work coming together – it is kind of like the birth of the baby.” Although interpretive dancers, smoke and light shows are banned on all good labour wards. 

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