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Flying the Dassault Falcon 7X FAA FFS Level D simulator

Mike Bennett flying the Falcon 7xThe call that I had been waiting for finally came. It was my Falcon pilot friend (who will go unnamed for this story). He was scheduled for his 12 month check flight in the Falcon 7X and invited me to stop by for some free flight time.

I cleared it with the boss, left work early and headed up to CAE. Once I arrived he escorted me to the simulator. As we got closer, I have to admit I was a bit intimidated. I had been away from flying for a little while due to other financial needs and wasn’t even IFR current or proficient in my Cessna 172, never mind a jet! NO PRESSURE.

After a quick review of the aircraft system – okay, they showed me how to adjust the seat – we got started. We were positioned at a hanger at Teterboro NJ  KTEB ready for taxi. I applied some power… Not enough… Some more… Okay, now we are moving. You steer the 7x using your feet, just like a Cessna but it is very sensitive. I have to say, I taxied this thing like it was the first time I had taxied an airplane, by this point, the instructor must have started to think (who the hell is this guy and why is he flying my multi million dollar simulator?) My friend kept assuring me that everyone has issues taxiing but I am pretty sure I was one of the worst.

Time for takeoff:

We were lined up on runway 19 I applied power, taking my time, that’s when my friend pushed the power all the way up to the stops (you can do that with full-authority digital engine control without exceeding limits). I was immediately impressed with the g-force the simulator was able to produce. I was shoved to the back of my seat. MAN THIS THING IS FAST! That runway goes away quick at 100 + knots.

Rotation speed was around 120 knots. As I lifted the nose, my friend prompted me to move the stick full back to the stops. The fly by wire system took over and automatically trimmed the airplane for the climb. Flaps and gear up and again, the auto trim took over and made it seamless to me. I, on the other hand, had to learn how to fly a flight director -now see the value in flying glass aircraft-. It took me a few minutes to settle down and stop chasing the command bars, once I did, it was actually easier than a 172.

Check that speed! We leveled off at two thousand feet for a quick tour of NYC. As I leveled off they prompted me to “get that power back”. I had the power levers set to about half but that was way too high. We had already exceeded our max speed of 200 knots. I had to set her to pretty much thrust idle to get back down to 180 knots. With that out of the way, we moved on to some approaches.

The instructor set up some good old IFR weather (the snow effect was cool, kind of like Star Wars). They vectored me for the ILS 6 at TEB and my friend configured everything else. My job was to fly the airplane. They offered to engage the auto pilot but I opted to hand fly since I wanted the full experience of actually flying the 7X to the ground (preferably at an airport).

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It was a lot to take in for the first time -heck, I don’t even fly these things in my home flight simulator- but as I learned the flight director things got easier. One of the things I found most helpful was the power command bar. It simply commands you to set the power within a bracket displayed on the PFD. You move the thrust levers so that the thrust setting bar fits between the brackets -]. For example, you want to set the speed to 120 knots. You set 120 knots in the autopilot and the power command bar moves down. You set the power so the thrust setting bar fits into the brackets. As you slow, the command brackets move up as drag increases etc.

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Flying the approach was very easy. One of the nicest things was how the flight director led me in to the approach. Not bad at all. Perfect intercept by a total jet new-bee, this wouldn’t have been the case without the FD and my friend setting everything up.

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The first approach ended in a missed. Next up, my instructor repositioned us for some steep turns at 10,000 feet.

We started off with some 45 degree bank turns. This is truly a breeze in the 7x. She is well balanced and very responsive. The fly by wire auto trim made it seem like I was missing something. A little like jumping from a stick shift to an automatic car. Just set the power and back her over. As we increased the bank they demonstrated how the 7x will roll back out of any turn beyond 30 degrees (Note: I think it was 30). Roll it into a 60 degree bank turn and it will do it, but once you let go of the side stick, she rolls back to 30 degrees.

Back to TEB for a final approach:

This time, the instructor set us up a little high and fast. We chopped the power and dumped everything to get us back down to the glide slope (something I would only do in a sim). Now established on the approach, it was time to fly her all the way in. The weather was set to 800 feet and once I broke out I went visual. This is were I once again see the advantage in flying glass. My scan during landing in my airplane includes the airspeed indicator in the upper left hand corner of the instrument panel. On glass it’s a tape style indicator and a bit lower (not in my scan but something I could get used to).

I dropped a few knots on short final but my instructor brought it to my attention. I added some power, probably a bit too much because I ended up passing my intended landing spot by about 1000 feet! With a ker-plunk I had arrived, abet, not as nice as my C17 landing by a long shot, but Ill take it. As we rolled out, the instructor called for reverse thrust. I had no idea how to engage it so my friend stepped in.

Once again, back to the rudder peddle steering, I couldn’t help but laugh at my self as I worked way too hard to stay on the center line.

How “real” was it? When we stopped, I found myself shaking from the adrenalin rush. I would say it’s pretty close to the real deal.

A big thank you to my friend and my instructor for this experience!

Please leave your comments below.

Happy safe flying everyone…

Check out a write up from a real flight test in the Falcon 7X

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/flight-test-dassault-falcon-7x-fast-and-easy-213809/

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  • How do i get one of those for my apartment? 🙂

  • Awesome flight! Great experience, Mike! Thanks for the share.

  • Well, for a small fee I am sure they can set that up for ya… We were looking into doing the same thing before they decided to sell our 182RG.

  • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the write up.

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Amanda Michelle (Younkin) Franklin 3/14/1986 – 5/27/2011 Click for information on Amanda