Dassault Falcon Jet F200

    The F200 is the commercial business jet version of the Coast Guard HU25-A. Like the HU25-A, it is based off the same fuselage as the F20F, but the ATF3s offer much better performance and range than the old CF700s. The F200 was the first Falcon Jet with an all-glass cockpit.

    Below Kurt Lammon copied an excellent old Flying Magazine article, circa 1987, about the F200. It really gives you a good idea what a pleasure flying an F200 must be.

From Flying Magazine, 1987
By J. Mac McClellan

French Bred Dassault Falcon 200: not just a pretty face

    On any list of visually pleasing airplanes the Falcon 20 can be topped only if you're into sheer size, guns and bombs, or funny-looking delta wings. Even the newer Falcons, superior though they are in many ways, have not exceeded the original Falcon Jet's appearance. We're talking bathing-suit competition here, not talent show. The Falcon looks and flies the best. But the Falcon 20 has one serious shortcoming-range. It is not a short-range airplane but falls in a middle category, leaving many common business trips right on the ragged edge of the airplane's capabilities. With no wind and VFR reserves the Falcon 20 could easily fly 1,700 nm. But with the realities of headwinds, distant IFR alternates and air-traffic delays, fuel could quickly become a problem. Many a corporate crew has been "fuel critical'' at rotation in the Falcon 20, sweating out a trip that was easy in the summer or downwind. The 20 made life easy for pilots with its wonderful flying qualities, but made them pay with gray hair worrying about fuel reserves.

    The Falcon 200 has solved that problem. The 200 retains the same basic airframe of the 20, but the new Garrett ATF3 engines and updated systems boost the range by more than 800 nm, while allowing the 200 to fly at a much higher cruise speed. The 200 carries more payload from a shorter runway over a much greater distance at a higher speed-and for less cost than the 20. The sleek looks of the airplane are about all that remains unchanged.

    Much of the extra range comes from the increased efficiency of the Garrett ATF3 engines, which require about 275 pounds less fuel per hour to propel the Falcon 200 at 410 knots true airspeed. Recommended tong-range cruise for the 200 is now about 420 knots, with 429 knots normal cruise. The old GE CF700~powered 20 had to slow to well below 400 knots for long range, and about 410 knots was tops for normal cruise. Many trips in the 20 were flown at "long range' cruise speed, so the 200 has a considerable useful-speed advantage, though both airplanes have high maximum Mach o~ crating speeds (Mach .87 for the 20 and .864 for the 200). Because the 200 climbs more strongly and needs to carry less fuel than the 20 on a typical trip, the 200 arrives at a higher, more efficient altitude sooner, further adding to its actual speed advantage.

    Comparisons between the Falcon 20 and 200 are inevitable, but the more valid comparison would be between the 200 and the Falcon 50. The 200 and 50 have identical cabins, but the 50 has about 1,000 nm more range and a price tag about $4 million higher than the 200's. The 200 requires modest amounts of runway compared with the earlier Falcon 20s, but the 50 can be operated from extremely short strips. If you don't need the longer range or the exceptional short-field capability, the 200 delivers the same cabin comfort for a lot less money.

    Dassault, the French company that builds the Falcons, did not simply re-engine the Falcon 20. All Falcon 200s have been built from scratch. Only the prototype was created from a 20 airframe. Dassault considered an all-new wing for the 200, but its computer showed that while a new wing might weigh a little less and have slightly less drag, the benefits would be minimal. Instead, Dassault's engineers concentrated on refining the wing for low-speed flight to shorten runway requirements for the 200.

    Takeoff and landing speeds in transport-category airplanes are predicated on values above stalling speed. If you want to reduce runway requirements you must first reduce stalling speed in each configuration. Dassault had learned much about the low-speed behavior of the Falcon's highly swept wings during development of the Falcon 50, and it applied this knowledge to the Falcon 200 wing.

    All Falcon wings use leading-edge slats that extend to add camber to the airfoil for superior low-speed performance. Because the wing is swept more than 30 degrees, the slats, which fit snugly when retracted, have gaps between them when extended forward and down. The gaps disrupt the airflow at high angles of attack, thus raising the stalling speed. To solve this problem Dassault engineers devised what they call 'guillotines'--sections of leading-edge slat that move sideways to seal the gaps between slat sections.

    The other significant changes to the wing are an unusual-looking wing-root fillet that the French call a karman," and a redesigned wing stall fence. The karman looks like the nose of a wing rib attached to the fuselage of the airplane. It mimics the shape and camber of the extended leading-edge slats, so air flows more smoothly over the wing-fuselage intra-section in the takeoff or landing configurations, further reducing stall speed. Dassault says that, despite its unusual appearance, the karman adds no drag in cruise. The stall fence on the 200 is much shorter and is placed farther forward than on the 20. Research has shown that spanwise airflow at high angles of attack on swept wings can be as effectively blocked with a short fence near the leading edge as with a large fence extending over the chord of the wing. Dassault takes great pride in the fact that its airplanes require no stick pushers or other stall-barrier systems to achieve a predictable straight-ahead stall break instead of the sharp wing roll that is common in swept-wingjets. To ensure this excellent stall behavior, the 200's angle-of-attack system automatically deploys the wing slats when the airplane nears a stall. If the angle of attack is further increased, the system retracts the inboard slat sections, causing the wing-root area to stall first, resulting in a consistent straight-ahead stall break with aileron control throughout the recovery. The natural shaking and bucking that precedes a stall would remind the most inattentive Falcon pilot that it's time to address the angle of attack.

    The cockpit of the Falcon 200 more closely resembles the new 50 or 900 cockpits than it does the older 20's. Virtually all systems on board the airplane have been updated, and in most eases are actually two-thirds of a 50 system, because there are two engines on the 200 instead of the three on the 50. All circuit breakers have been moved from the cockpit bulkhead behind the pilots to the overhead panels. Diagrams on the panels define the functions of switches that control the electrical, hydraulic, environmental and other systems.

    As in all Falcons, the 200 uses hydraulically powered controls. Mechanical pushrods connect the cockpit controls to the control surfaces. Dual hydraulic actuators mounted on the control rods provide the muscle to move the controls. But if all the hydraulic systems should fail (which has never happened) the airplane can be flown with pilot muscle alone.

    The flying qualities of the Falcons are in part due to the artificial feel systems, which give pilots the ideal control sensations while allowing the hydraulics to move the control surfaces. Dassault calls the artificial feel systems Arthur Q units, and the 200 has one each for the ailerons and elevator. The Arthur Q units do their jobs so well that the Fakon 200 has the same control feel and response at 120 knots on approach as it does on descent at Mach .86 out of FL 410. For the pure flying qualities of control feel, smoothness, predictability and precision, no business jet can match the Falcon.

    The aft fuselage of the 200 was redesigned to accommodate the new ATF3 engines and to improve the systems. The APU is now in the far aft section of the tailcone, and the batteries have been moved to the nose, along with some other avionics that had been located in the tailcone "hell hole." A 28-cubic-foot heated baggage compartment is now located in the left tailcone, providing space for golf clubs, skis and other bulky luggage that was a nuisance in the aft cabin baggage area.

    The ATF3 engines each produce 5200 pounds of thrust for takeoff, compared with the 4,500 pounds of the GE CP700 engines on the Falcon 20F. To provide engine-out directional control with the added thrust, Dassault didn't add more rudder but did fasten a small piece of metal to the trailing edge of the nidder. This small strip, mounted at a right angle to the airflow, somehow improves engine-out rudder authority.

    Powering away from the chocks, you quickly appreciate the new nosewheel-steering system. The small steering wheel on the captain's left looks identical with the Falcon 20's, but the steering system has been redesigned to decrease sensitivity. It's easy to guide the 200 down the taxiway centerline without the airplane twitching back and forth. The brakes have also been changed to the 50-style system, with dual systems in addition to an emergency and parking-brake handle mounted on top of the glareshield. It's tough to make brakes that can stop an airplane from 120 knots or more and still allow taxiing without grab and shudder, but Dassault has done it. It's a small thing that makes the airplane and the pilot look good to the passengers.

    The ATF3 engines are fully protected from overtemp or overspeed by electronic fuel computers, but we still calcWated a target Ni speed for takeoff at Chicago Midway. We weighed 28,900 pounds, with 8000 pounds of fuel on board. It was a cool day, and Vi was 116 knots and V2 118 knots. We had plenty of fuel for the trip to Teterboro, New Jersey, and enough reserve for some airwork and four trips around the pattern at Decatur, Illinois. The 200 is truly a versatile airplane; it has the range to reach any point in the continental U.S. without overextending itself, and plenty of range for the normal international trips. A Falcon 20 crew wouldn't necessarily sweat a Chicago-to-Teterboro trip, but it wouldn't be out playing with stalls steep turns and touch-and-goes on the way.

    In the terminal area the 200 requires more speed planning than most business jets, because it has such a low-drag airframe and so much residual thrust from the ATFS engines at flight idle. I spent more time flying with the throttles at the stops in the 200 than in any other airplane I can remember. The speed brakes work well when you need to slow in a hurry, but many crews would rather not subject their passengers to the low rumble of the extended boards. Rounded off, approach-flap and gear-extension speeds are both 200 knots, so the Falcon 200 pilot needs to slow early to be below that speed in the pattern. Even with flaps and gear out, very little power is required to maintain VREF, which is about 110 knots at a typical landing weight. The ATF8 engines produce a slight power surge at about 60-percent NI fan speed, which works out to be just about the amount of power needed to maintain VREF on approach. It takes a big throttle movement to go from idle to 60-percent Ni, but once you reach that point and stabilize on the approach, very small adjustments keep the 200 on speed.

    Landing the Falcon 200 is a satisfying experience; the absolute greaser 5 the norm. For some reason the approach attitude in the 200 appears flat from the cockpit, when in reality it is quite nose high. The slightest flare produces the perfect landing, but even after several touchdowns I was still surprised how far the nosewheel was above the pavement. The 200 tracks straight and true on the runway during roll-out, and the reversers are enormously powerful. The ATF3 engines discharge hot engine-core exhaust through ports on the sides of the engine, so a conventional reverser would not work on the 200. Instead, blocker doors rotate down from the outer cowling to block both engine fan and core exhaust and direct them up and forward. The system is simple and very effective.

    For our trip to Teterboro I climbed directly to FL 410-an unheard-of initial altitude for the Falcon 20. But the 200 reached FL 410 injust25 minutes, where at maximum cruise speed the true airspeed was 454 knots on 1690 pounds of fuel per hour. We could have saved 200 pph by going just 20 knots slower but speed is the name of the game. Power management in climb is easy, thanks to a system Garrett calls 'throttle lock." The engine fuel computers monitor engine temperature and speed and maintain safe engine power during climb without the crew moving the throttles.

    It turned out to be a perfect evening for a flight evaluation. The air was completely calm over Illinois for traffic-pattern work, but sigmets warned of possibly severe low-altitude turbulence over New Jersey. On the way down, the controllers dished out their usual brand of New York-style airwork. We were cleared to descend to FL 190 from FL 410 with a crossing restriction and asked to accelerate to 320 knots at the same time. With power at flight idle and airspeed at MMO (maximum Mach operating) until reaching 320 knots indicated, it still took speed brakes to get down with descent rates approaching 4,000 fpm. A series of crossing restrictions followed, along with a clearance to hold that was changed just as I started to enter the pattern. Speed assignments varied between 320 and 160 knots and did not decrease in linear fashion. Yet the Falcon 200 made it all seem easy.

    Naturally, the strong surface wind was blowing across the runway at Teterboro, presenting the opportunity to make a night landing in a stiff crosswind that was kicking up moderate turbulence. The Falcon 200 is so precisely controllable that the approach and landing were not difficult, although I had landed the airplane only three times before.

    To date, Falcon 200 sales have not matched those of other midsize business jets, but business appears to be accelerating. The ATF3 engines have endured controversy and have suffered through the growing pains that plague any all-new engine. Another marketing problem for the Falcon 200 is, ironically, the Falcon 20. The 20 is such a good airplane that many operators are reluctant to trade it for the much more refined and longer-range 200. But that is changing. The midsize business jet accounts for an increasingly large percentage of total sales, and customers want coast-to-coast range to match the size and comfort of the midsize cabin. The Falcon 200 has the largest cabin of any of the midsize jets.

    The Falcon 200 proves once again that Dassault knows how to build spectacular airplanes. It also proves that the good things in life don't come cheap. No matter how you slice it-by the pound, by the mile of range or by the cubic foot of cabin space-the Falcon 200 is the most expensive airplane in its category. Is a Falcon worth the price? There is no answer to that question, except to note that once a company operates a Falcon it seldom settles for any other airplane.


updated 7/18/2008