GENEVA: Just seven months after presenting its luxury 5X Falcon business jet, Dassault Aviation unveiled yesterday its new 8X, capable of flying non-stop from Los Angeles to Beijing.
Known until now under the code name M1000, the new tripple-engine is set to sell for 10 percent more than the French aircraft manufacturer’s star 7X model, which it was based on, and will carry a price tag of around $55m.
The 8X, measuring 13 metres and able to carry up to 19 passengers, is already in production.
Its inaugural flight is scheduled for the beginning of next year, with the first deliveries set for the end of 2016, Dassault said ahead of the opening of the three-day EBACE business jet show in Geneva. The 8X will compete directly with US firm Gulfstream’s G550 and the Global 6000 by Canada’s Bombardier.
“Launching two planes in less than a year is quite unique,” said Dassault chief Eric Trappier.
The French aircraft maker, which also builds the Rafale fighter jets, can now offer a family of six business planes “designed to meet the widest possible range of operator needs at the upper end of the business jet spectrum,” he added.
The high-end business jets weathered the past five years of economic crisis surprisingly well.
The appetite for such luxury aircraft, with the capability of carrying their distinguished passengers greater and greater distances without stopping to refuel, has continued to grow as the business world becomes ever more globalised.
The ballooning number of multi-millionaires and billionaires around the world, and especially in China, is also driving the demand. The 8X could prove attractive because of its capability of flying for 12,000km without touching down.
With eight passengers and three crew members onboard, the new jet can thus zip between Los Angeles and Beijing, Sao Paulo and Los Angeles or New York and Tel Aviv, which is not possible with the other Falcons.
With its improved wing design and lighter body, the 8X will be 35-percent more fuel efficient than any other business plane in the ultra-long-haul segment, Dassault said.