Dassault Falcon 20 Review
A blast from the past might be in your flying future
The Falcon 20 is a luxury private jet charter aircraft that offers more cabin room than other private passenger charter jets in its class. It has a long and successful history and with upgrades over the years is currently a popular business and charter aircraft with a bright a cost-effective future.
The advanced age of this aircraft compared to its newer competitors is actually an advantage. The Falcon 20 has a much lower acquisition cost than other jets but has much better flight performance. Passengers enjoy the ride in a Falcon with its roomy interior just as much or even more than its more modern, yet smallish and cramped competition in the charter and business aviation marketplace.
The Dassault Falcon 20 is a first-generation, twin-engine business jet that was developed in France in the early 1960s and remained in production until 1983. The all-metal, low-wing aircraft features rear-mounted engines; a swept, full-cantilever wing; cruciform tail and a retractable dual-wheel tricycle landing gear. This aircraft normally accommodates between eight and ten passengers, plus a crew of two.
This business jet was actually flown and evaluated by the “Lone Eagle” himself, Charles Lindbergh. In 1963, Pan American’s founder Juan Trippe was looking for the ideal mid-size jet to buy for his new business aircraft venture. He asked Charles Lindbergh to appraise a short list of candidate aircraft.
Lindbergh flew Dassault Aircraft’s Mystère 20 prototype and told Trippe, “We’ve found our plane.” The Falcon 20-F5, now in its golden years, hasn’t lost any of that charisma and is still a passenger and operator favorite.
This legacy aircraft from the venerated Dassault aircraft company in France was one of the first aircraft produced with an advanced wing design that enabled takeoff and landing at slower speeds on shorter runways. This feature made thousands of small town and rural runways completely
accessible to the business jet traveling customer.
The Falcon 20 offers an extra long cabin compared to other aircraft in its class. Its seats can be easily moved around into almost any position with the touch of a button. This feature allows easy manipulation of the airplane seating to meet charter passengers or cargo carrying needs.
This aircraft’s ability to climb and cruise at an altitude of 42,000 feet cruising altitude is an important advantage over most other aircraft in its price range. The comfort and economy of high flight level cruise altitudes like this Falcon can attain is a big selling point for operators and customers.
Because the United States represented the largest market for new, turbofan-powered business jets and based on the recommendation of Charles Lindbergh to Juan Trippe, Dassault partnered with Pan American World Airways to market its new corporate jet in the United States. Pan American’s Business Jet Division sold the aircraft in North America under the name Fan Jet Falcon or Falcon 20.
The partnership was a big success and within a few years, Dassault introduced a series of improved models with more powerful engines, along with other enhancements that improved passenger comfort and safety.
The Falcon 20C’s improvements included increased fuel capacity, the 20D had even greater fuel capacity, along with CF700-2D power plants rated at 4,250 pounds of thrust. The 20E and F models incorporated more powerful CF700-2D-2 engines (rated at 4,500 pounds of thrust), as well as new high-lift devices—leading-edge flaps—to improve takeoff and landing performance.
When Dassault and Garrett AiResearch teamed to create the Falcon 20-5 in the mid 1980s, they succeeded in converting one hundred and twenty six aircraft that flew higher, faster and farther on one-third less fuel. Removing the 1960s era General Electric CF700 engines and replacing them with TFE731-5 turbofans made these classic Mystère Falcon 20 aircraft competitive with the contemporary midsize models offered by Cessna, Hawker and Lear Jet.
With a maximum range of 2,400 nautical miles, a 700 cubic foot cabin volume and seating for 9 passengers, it became the jet against which all other midsize competitors were measured and remains a passenger favorite to this day. There is something special about the luxury of riding in a Falcon 20.
The Falcon is a tough aircraft, with a 20,000 cycle/30,000-hour initial service life with no hard-use life limits.
Maximum airspeed ranges from three hundred and fifty to three hundred and ninety nautical miles per hour and its maximum Mach number is 0.88, higher than any other competitive aircraft of that era other than Citation X.
Flight crews enjoy its fully powered flight controls and speed-proportionate artificial controls feel system. Falcon 20-F5 model has two hundred and seventy pounds more fuel capacity than earlier models and full-span slats that reduce reference speeds.
It has non-stop west coast of the United States to east coast range because of the prevailing winds, but the return leg coast to coast from east to west will usually require a fuel stop.
Falcon 20 Review – The Numbers
- Engines: Two Honeywell TFE731-5BRs, 4,750 lbst each
- Seats up to 12
- Max takeoff weight: 29,100 pounds
- Cruise speed: 417 knots
- Balanced field length: 5,170 feet
- Range: 1,920 nm
- Wingspan: 53 feet, 5 inches
- Length: 56 feet, 3 inches
- Height: 17 feet, 8 inches