Falcon 50 Review
The three engined Falcon 50 is a long range aircraft which is based on the earlier twin-jet Mystère/Falcon 20 and 200 families. It is very popular with passengers, operators and pilots. This aircraft re-defined what a business aircraft was able to do and made very long range flights, including trans-oceanic flights, possible and economical.
The Dassault Falcon 50 was designed using the Falcon 20’s design and flowing lines for its basic form. The design requirements dictated that in order for the airplane to easily fly its over three thousand nautical mile range it would need to be a totally new aircraft from earlier models that incorporated quite a few new ideas, materials and craftsmanship. Although the appearance of a Falcon 50 looks much like its smaller, twin-engine siblings, under the skin, it is a totally different bird.
A brief history
The Falcon 50 was first certified in February 1979 in France and a month later in the United States. Production of the Falcon 50 ended in 1996. When it debuted, it was put in competition with the older Lockheed Jetstars with its four engines and other legacy airliners like the Boeing 707 that were expensive, but needed if business leaders wanted to cross oceans in a hurry.
Almost two decades after the Falcon 50 came the Falcon 50EX which made its first flight in 1996. The Falcon 50EX was outfitted with more efficient and powerful engines than the Falcon 50 that with other design enhancements enabled this popular business jet even more range and speed. Three hundred and fifty two Falcon 50, 50-40 (engine upgrade), and 50EX aircraft delivered since 1979 with less than ten Falcon 50s retired from the fleet. Production of the Falcon 50 series ended in 2007. There are currently 653 total aircraft in operation for these models.
A lot to love
Passengers love the Falcon 50 because of its comfort; speed, and range. Flight crews appreciate the Falcon because of its outstanding flight performance. The Falcon 50 is able to transport up to nine passengers non-stop from Maui to Fort Lauderdale.
Pilots have found that it is nearly impossible to mess-up weight and balance computations with this airplane. Almost all combinations of passengers and cargo result in the Falcon 50 remaining within center of gravity limits.
The Falcon 50’s three-engine based performance allows it to take off and land where other business jets fear to tread, enabling it to operate in and out of short, high elevation airports with high temperatures. This means that the Falcon does not have to give up adequate fuel loads and reserves in other to get off the ground. Very long range flights in this aircraft can leave, without a weight penalty, from most general aviation airports.
What do Falcon passengers get out of the excellent performance of the Falcon 50? They enjoy the ability to travel at a maximum speed of 568 miles per hour or a long-range cruising speed of 550 miles per hour. The range of their flights at these high speeds can be as far as 4,025 miles non-stop.
The cabin of the Falcon 50EX has remained the same through all designs of the aircraft. It is roomy and seats nine passengers comfortably. This is important for an executive aircraft that you might be a passenger on for eight to ten hours on long flights. There are three closets in the cabin for all of the passengers storage needs.. All baggage compartments are fully pressurized and a total of 2,200 pounds of bags can be stored – more than 220 pounds per passenger.
Passenger seating is laid out in one four-seat club arrangement, and a separate section of two facing seats and a three-seat couch. Work tables fold out between facing seats so work can be completed or card games can ensue. Power plugs are available for laptops and office equipment. Temperature control is separate for the cockpit and the cabin.
This separate temp control is important to pilots on a long-range aircraft. Cockpits tend to get much colder during flight than the passenger cabin and in other aircraft this has led to at least one of the two groups being uncomfortable.
Galleys equipped for hot and cold food preparation come standard, including an oven, ice chest, and coffee maker.
The Front Office
The avionics suite of the Falcon 50EX is based on the Collins Pro Line 4 suite. Four 7.25×7.25 inch screens display flight information. Flight controls are located close to the corresponding displays in an intuitive cockpit layout. The cockpit comes standard with a dual Pro Line II radio system, dual digital air-computers, a TWR-850 Doppler turbulence detection radar, an AlliedSignal dual Global GNS-XMS Flight Management System, and several other flight control and environmental awareness systems.
The three-engined advantage
Most airliners that do ocean crossings today are doing so with two engines. It wasn’t too long ago that two engine aircraft flying over water was considered by many to be foolhardy and dangerous. The past three decades have proven that properly maintained engines that are constantly monitored can be relied upon to get people and cargo safely across vast distances over oceans.
Even with the new rules along with the great performance and economy of these two-engine birds, there is still a lot to be said about the comfort and beauty of having three engines on your aircraft.
Not only do you get the added redundancy of three power plants instead of two operators of three engined aircraft have more freedom of movement around the planet. They don’t have to follow Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards, or “ETOPS”. The ETOPS rules apply to twins on routes with diversion time more than sixty minutes at one engine inoperative speed. This means that a Falcon 50 can choose just about any trans-oceanic route it pleases without concern for staying close enough to a coast line for a diversion.
Other three-engine versus two-engine rules apply domestically, such as takeoff alternate rules and engine out training for flight crews. Many younger pilots see no difference between two-engine and three-engine operations while older pilots like me always prefer as many engines as we can get.
Model FJ 50 – The numbers
|Takeoff at Sea Level, feet||4,700|
|Takeoff at 5000′ 25°C, feet||7,105|
|Landing Distance, feet||2,150|
|Certified Ceilings, feet||49,000|
|Fuel Consumption, gallons per hour||229|
|Total Variable Cost||$2,539|
|High Speed Cruise, knots||468|
|Ranges, Four Pax, Nautical Miles (NM)||3,123|
|600 NM Mission, Fight Time||1+29|
|1000 NM Mission, Flight Time||2+27|
|PASSENGER SEATING CONFIGURATION|
|MAX SEATING CONFIGURATION||19|
|CABIN VOLUME (CUBIC FEET)|
|BAGGAGE CAPACITY (CUBIC FEET)|