Dassault’s 2000s Falcon is its greenest yet, both on fuel and emissions, and it’s able to takeoff and land in shorter distances. All this and it’s cheaper too
IT’S TRUE to say that Dassault has produced the 2000S down to a price by limiting cabin styling options, but there is so much more to this entry-level mid-size aircraft than that. Low operating costs and improved performance at low speeds mean that the 2000S will appeal to operators at some of the more challenging airports in the world as well as giving a cost advantage.
The Falcon 2000S was announced at EBACE 2011, shortly after it had made its first flight in February of that year. Certification is expected later this year with deliveries beginning in early 2013, so this has been a fast-paced project. Of course, the 2000S is based on the already successful 2000 platform.
P1’s flight test of the Dassault Falcon 2000S took place at the Istres test centre near Marseilles, France. I flew in the left seat with Dassault test pilot Frederic Lascourreges in the right seat, with Sebastian Dupont du Dinechin on the jump seat. Basic weight of the aircraft, F-WWGP, was 29,820lb including four occupants, with a fuel load of 6140lb, giving a takeoff weight of 35,960lb. The weather forecast gave an indication of a developing Mistral wind leading to strong northerly winds, although the eventual maximum wind during the test was around 15kt. Other than that, the weather forecast was CAVOK, which indeed proved to be the case.
A comprehensive briefing on the flight profile included all crew and test engineers. The plan was to depart Istres to the southwest, climbing to FL150 for general handling before returning to Istres via an RNAV approach to RW 33 and full stop landing.
We would then carry out a further takeoff, remaining in the visual circuit to try a simulated London City steep approach to go around, followed by one further circuit for a touch-and-go, and concluding with a final circuit for a short landing.
Like other Falcon flight tests I have completed, I was aiming to form a quick impression as to how easy it was to operate the 2000S as a pilot, rather than explore any extremes of the flight envelope in the manner of test pilots.
The stylish new EASy II flight deck displays were very obvious as I got into the left side cockpit seat. Seats are fully adjustable, as are the rudder pedals. Our aircraft, ‘GP’, was not fitted with the autobrake that production aircraft will be fitted with.
Frederic got on with the cockpit setup, establishing communications with the telemetry team. The first takeoff was set up for Slats and Flaps at 1 (SF1), giving V1 of 100kt, Vr of 119kt, V2 of 122kt, and flap retract speed Vfr of 147kt.
After APU start, engine start was quickly carried out by selecting respective power lever to idle and selecting the engine start selector to START. Each engine took around 30 seconds to complete its start cycle and we were quickly ready for taxy.
Residual thrust was quite sufficient to accelerate gently once moving, and the brakes felt smooth. With no rudder pedal steering fitted, tiller control is used on the ground. I found it difficult to get taxying turns completed as smoothly as I would like, but this was perhaps down to lack of familiarity.
The initial clearance from Istres ATC was to turn left onto 250°, climbing to 2500ft. The RAAS reminded us that we were approaching RW 33 as we neared the holding point on Taxyway B, and we lined up on the runway.
Without rudder pedal steering, takeoff required me as Pilot Flying (PF) initially to operate the tiller steering with my left hand, with Frederic as Pilot Monitoring (PM) keeping control of the control yolk. At 80kt, I would then take full control from the tiller.
I held the Falcon on the toe-brakes as I moved the power levers to the fully forward TAKE-OFF position. The PW 608 engines took a few seconds to wind up, and with full power achieved I released the brakes.
Acceleration was very brisk – around 7kt/sec – and the 80kt control transfer point arrived very quickly. Rotate speed was reached soon after, and I rotated to around 10 degrees nose up on the Flight Path Vector.
This was not as high as it could have been, so we accelerated very sharply after lift-off, and Frederic raised the landing gear and slats/flaps to up on schedule, and reduced thrust to the CLIMB detent.
As ever, flying on the Head Up Display (HUD) was a delight, and we turned left onto 250°, with ATC clearing us to FL150. Handling had the traditional fighter-like Dassault feel, and rate-of-climb was a good 6000ft/min.
At FL150 I carried out some 45 and 60° AOB steep turns. The 2000S just seemed to want to fly such manoeuvres. As with the Falcon 7X, I found I achieved best accuracy in height-keeping using the Pilot Display Unit rather than the HUD. Control yoke forces required to hold the 2G necessary for a level 60° turn seemed reasonable and not excessive.
Next we set up for low speed handling and stalls, in clean and dirty configurations, with and without auto-throttle engaged. In all cases there was audio warning of both the low speed situation and the stall itself, but little airframe warning and no wing drop.
With auto-throttle engaged, the power levers shot forward at the stall to full power, assisting stall recovery whilst I simultaneously lowered the nose. Height loss was minimal at around 200ft.
With general handling manouevres complete, Frederic set up the RNAV 33 Approach into Istres using the EASy II interface. The procedure has been designed as an artificially curved approach, to replicate the sort of approaches that will become the norm as radio-based approaches are replaced by GPS-derived procedures. The approach is only authorised for Day VMC use on test flights.
With the autopilot engaged in LNAV and V-ALT, we joined the Initial Approach Fix (SANDY) at 3000ft and 240kt, and followed the route around the first 180° turn to the right. Now on a ‘downwind’ leg, I configured the Falcon to gear down with SF3 as we approached the Final Approach Fix at OLIVE at 160kt.
The 2000S then started the final turn 180° descending turn left onto the runway course. We rolled out perfectly aligned on the runway centreline at around 600ft, and I disconnected the autopilot and autothrottle.
RAAS called again (‘Approaching Runway 33’) as we passed 500 ft, and the aircraft was stable at the Vref of 118kt. Radalt calls started at 50ft, and I flared slightly high, resulting in a longish float before touching down. With the nosewheel down I selected idle thrust reverse and gentle braking, transferring my left hand back to the tiller as we slowed below 80kt.
We then set up for an SF2 take-off to join the visual circuit. I raised the nose to a more sensible attitude on this takeoff, keeping the speed more under control as we climbed to 2000ft for the simulated London City (LCY) approach.
Again, using EASy II Frederic was able to set up vertical guidance in the HUD for the 5.5° slope used at LCY. We extended downwind to give plenty of space for the final approach, configuring again with gear down and SF3. On final approach I followed the HUD guidance to follow the 5.5° slope, and selected Airbrakes 1. The 2000S was fully stable on the steep approach on Vref with the power levers almost back at flight idle and some slight buffeting from the airbrakes. At 300ft I commenced the go-around, selecting full power which automatically retracted the airbrakes. Despite the low power position during the approach, go-around thrust was quickly established.
We then flew two further visual circuits, and like other Falcons I have flown, I was really enjoying the sharp precise feel of the 2000S. Tight visual circuits could be flown in this aircraft comfortably, a useful requirement for any business jet in the modern and developing world.
On the final approach we planned for a short landing, using maximum braking and full thrust reverse, but without autobrakes. My aiming point for touchdown was abeam taxyway B, and I wanted to vacate at C, 800m beyond. My touchdown was slightly firmer than planned and after lowering the nosewheel, I selected full thrust reverse and maximum braking. The deceleration was astonishing – 10kt/sec from subsequent telemetry investigation – and I was pushed forward into the shoulder straps. The exit point at C was still a long way ahead as I deselected thrust reverse, and I estimated that we had essentially stopped in 500m.
Brake temperatures indicated around 200°C as we taxied in, so no problem for the carbon fibre systems. Afterwards the test engineers informed me I had still not used the full braking available! Nonetheless it was a great demonstration of the short landing capability, one of the major selling points.
Once again, it looks like Dassault have produced another great aircraft from the Falcon stable. With its competitive price, low operating costs but limited cabin styling options, Dassault has created an aircraft that may well be attractive to the fractional market and to new business aircraft operators.
EASy II is even better than its EASy I predecessor, giving pilots outstanding situational awareness and autonomous operational ability.
The Falcon 2000S handles in just the same way as the 2000LX, but the reduced approach speeds, coupled with excellent brakes, give a real advantage in getting into airports with the shortest runways.
Its range of 3350nm generates a number of significant city pairings, especially in the Middle East and Far East. At the same time, the ‘green’ credentials of reduced fuel consumption and NOx emissions add attractiveness to the package.
In the continuing tough world of business aircraft sales, the Falcon 2000S has got to be in with a great chance of making an impression.
Dassault Falcon 2000LX
|BASE PRICE $25m|
|MAX SPEED Mach 0.862||.|
|MAX RANGE 43350nm @ M 0.80|
|TAKEOFF DIST 4550ft|
|LANDING DIST 2600ft|
|CABIN LENGTH 7.98m|
|CABIN HEIGHT 1.88m|
|CABIN WIDTH 2.34m|
|BAGGAGE VOLUME 3.7m3|
|PAX SEATS 8-10|
|BASIC EMPTY WEIGHT 10,795kg|
|FUEL CAPACITY 6622kg|
|2 x Pratt & Whitney PW308C turbofans|
|2 x 7000lb|
|EASy II (Honeywell Primus Epic)|