When asked to name the five things they like best about Falcon 2000LX, operators were hard pressed to limit the list to that number.

“The passengers love it, the crews love it, and it has great flying qualities, 20% lower operating costs than a Challenger 604 and slow ref speeds because of the [leading edge wing] slats,” says Les Austin of Duke Energy.

Falcon 2000LX has 1,024 cu. ft. of gross cabin volume, quite clearly qualifying it as a large cabin aircraft. Departing on a 1,000 nm trip with four passengers aboard, V speeds can be as low as 103 KIAS for V1, 114 KIAS for rotation and 117 KIAS for V2, assuming a slats and flaps 20 deg. configuration.

“It's so stable that I can hand fly the aircraft at FL 450. I also like the climb performance, docile handling, reliability and high landing weight that allows us to tanker fuel,” says Mike McShane who flies for Ranger Corp. based in Seattle.

Assuming arrival at its 39,300 lb. maximum landing weight, the aircraft can take off without refueling at 39,100 lb. and then fly as far as 3,000 nm.

Fuel miserly doesn't imply the aircraft is underpowered.

“This thing will go get it. We routinely climb to FL 410 in 19 min. With ten or fewer passengers, we can fly most Gulfstream G450 missions with $1,500 to $2,000 lower operating costs. I wish I had an airplane like this 20 years ago,” says Al Lancaster who flies s.n. 0158.

“When flying across the North Altantic, we always can climb above the NAT tracks,” says another flight department manager.

“Cockpit automation is very, very nice. It has great ride comfort, low fuel flows making it cheap to operate, a wonderful cabin and excellent reliability,” says the flight department manager of a Fortune 500 manufacturing company.

“Control response, climb rate, simple systems, fuel efficiency, inflight rated APU, speed, easy landing manners because of the winglets and short runway capabilities are my favorite features. Best of all, the boss loves it,” says the aviation department manager of a closely held holding company.

“It's easy to work on, we've had great customer support, the parts are logically assembled, field support in excellent and the maintenance manuals are well organized,” says Larry Witte, NextEra Energy's chief of maintenance.

Glenn Jones of Steelcase has been flying several Falcon jet models for more than three decades. He says that 85% of his firm's Falcon 2000LX missions involve packing all ten seats with customers. “It has great handling characteristics, low direct operating costs, cabin quiet and comfort, and reliability. For us, the ability to tanker fuel is important because we can buy fuel for less than $4.00 per gallon at home.”

Operators also like the aircraft's aesthetics and low profile ramp presence. Its exterior dimensions are similar to those of many super-midsize aircraft even though it can seat up to ten passengers and fly up to 4,000 nm. Many Falcon 2000LX passengers want to maintain a low profile.

“When we stop on the ramp, our CEO doesn't want to see a stretch limo at the bottom of the airstair. He won't get off the airplane,” says one flight department manager.

When asked about what they didn't like about Falcon 2000LX, few, if any, operators could name five areas that need improvement. But topping their lists is the late arrival of the EASy II cockpit upgrade. The software package was certified for Falcon 900LX in May 2011, but it won't be ready for Falcon 2000LX until the end of 2012 in accordance with Dassault's contract with avionics supplier Honeywell.

The second generation EASy cockpit will enable Falcon 2000LX to fly RNP AR (authorization required) 0.3 nm arrival and departure procedures, it will have an XM satellite radio weather capability, provide takeoff and go-around flight director guidance and electronic charts, along with ADS-B Out messaging and controller-to- pilot data link communications. Options will include a $380,000 synthetic vision package, WAAS LPS approach and 0.1 RNP certification.

Second on operator's gripe lists is Dassault's inability to earn credit from FAA or EASA for using the optional enhanced flight vision system as a substitution for unaided eye vision during low visibility approaches. Dassault Falcon Jet officials say that they originally believed that the CRT HUD with EFVS would enable them to earn such an approval, but FAA and EASA tightened certification criteria resulting in disqualification of the system because of “blooming,” a blurring of HUD imagery in certain lighting conditions.

Dassault believes that only second-generation LCD HUDs and newer EFVS cameras, such as the units installed on Falcon 7X aircraft, meet the latest FAA and EASA certification standards required for flying down to lower weather minimums than would be possible using unaided vision.

Bottom line? The current HUD/EFVS equipment aboard Falcon 2000LX cannot meet FAA's or EASA's revised standards for credit for flying down to lower minimums. And Dassault has no current plans for upgrading the system.

“It's a useless piece of equipment,” says the flight department manager of an oil patch company. Other complaints about the aircraft were few. Some pilots, for instance, love the airstair baggage compartment door because it makes it easy to hoist bags aboard the aircraft. Others hate the airstair door, saying that it gets in the way when loading bags into the compartment.

Some crews said that the cockpit seats are uncomfortable on long trips. We flew the aircraft from Bordeaux to Gander to Little Rock in one day and we experienced no such discomfort. But we've not flown the aircraft several times over a prolonged time period.

The Little Rock completion center received mixed reviews regarding quality control, both inside and outside the aircraft. While some operators said the completions were virtually flawless, others said that fit and finish fall short of what they expect in a $33 million aircraft.

“It's no Gulfstream [completion],” one operator said. “The valences don't align, there's too much use of [hook-and-loop] fasteners and the galley pocket door won't latch,” says another. “They rushed the aircraft through completion,” says a Canadian flight department manager. “We had 200 squawks during the pre-delivery inspection.”

Some operators said they had representatives who supervised the completion from green aircraft induction to final delivery. Their aircraft interiors were near flawless, but only because of their hands-on participation in the completion process.

The Little Rock completion center, however, has had a boatload of challenges with which to contend. While working on customer issues, it also has had to deal with much tougher FAA interpretations of aircraft completions rules. Hard line oversight policies started in mid-2008 when FAA inspectors were accused of overlooking maintenance infractions at Southwest Airlines. In the aftermath, several firms falling within the jurisdiction of FAA in the region saw enforcement procedures get much tougher.

Several folks also commented that the Falcon cabin management system, furnished by Rockwell Collins, has boot-up problems and a non-intuitive user interface. Dassault officials, though, say that the latest generation of FCMS equipment is based on Rockwell Collins Venue line and it should operate more satisfactorily. However, when we used the Venue-based system aboard Steelcase's Falcon 2000LX, we, too, found the user interface to be confusing.

Exterior paint quality and consistency also has been problematic. Some operators say the paint was applied too thickly. Dassault says it's reevaluating its paint suppliers and refining its paint processes to produce better results. Warranty claims have cost the firm a sizable sum for refinishing some aircraft.

Dassault's customer support generated many more positive comments from U.S. operators than in previous Falcon Jet Operators Surveys. The Danish were enthusiastic. “Support from Dassault has been the best way possible. The company works with customers and takes our comments seriously,” says Air Alsie's Therkelsen.

There were some negative comments from U.S. operators. A few said that Dassault is slow to respond and that there's more than a language barrier that separates the French firm from American operators. Most of the comments were related to the perceived slow pace of EASy II certification, the lack of EFVS operational credit and quality control problems at the Little Rock completions center. Operators say Dassault's support still isn't in a league with Gulfstream's.

A few operators, including Air Alsie, also said that the rejection rates for replacement parts are unacceptably high. Dassault doesn't replace failed parts under warranty with new parts. Rather it overhauls used parts to “current FAA or EASA airworthiness standards” and returns them to service with operators.