Let’s Go Flying
In late June, we climbed into the left seat of serial number 702 on Avitat's ramp at Vancouver International Airport. Falcon Jet Chief Pilot Franco “Valentino” Nese belted into the right seat as our instructor and demonstration pilot Peder Sarsten rode along as safety pilot on the jump seat.
The aircraft was loaded with optional equipment including theHGS head-up display and CMC Electronics EVS IR camera, among other kit that increased BOW to 25,280 lb. Thus, this aircraft had a 1,320-lb. tanks-full payload rather than the 1,850-lb. advertised by Dassault. With a 600-lb. payload and 8,440 lb. of fuel aboard, ramp weight was 34,500 lb. and computed takeoff weight was 34,000 lb.
Why the 500-lb. difference? We needed plenty of time and instruction to reacquaint ourselves with EASy II, Dassault's revolutionary cockpit design. It's easily the firm's most capable avionics system ever installed in a Falcon Jet, but it's not intuitive for pilots accustomed to more traditional cockpits — including me. There's display symbology and system function overload for some older pilots transitioning to the new system, in our opinion. The PFDs and MFDs appear to be in permanent reversion mode with 10 lb. of data in a 5-lb. display.
When the PFD is set up for takeoff, for instance, there's the usual ADI symbology, including flight guidance mode annunciations, speed bugs, pre-selected altitude, airspeed and altitude tapes atop the synthetic vision background, plus arc or rose HSI, active waypoint and RNP status.
But wait, there's more. There's also a CAS message window, engine instruments, fuel quantity, all three trim indications, landing gear, slats and flaps indications, along with active and standby VHF comm and nav frequencies, transponder mode and code, TCAS status, TAS and ground speed digits, and OAT/SAT and ISA deviation temperature indications, plus FMS active waypoint, ILS localizer identifier.
If you're comfortable in a Dassault Mirage 2000 orcockpit, perhaps transitioning to EASy is more natural. Sarsten and Nese, though civil aviation pilots, demonstrated great ease and prowess with EASy II, as one might expect from factory demo pilots. As long-time BCA contributor and current Falcon 7X captain Ross Detwiler notes, once you've mastered its nuances, EASy II is one of the quickest and most informative human/machine user interfaces ever created for a flight deck.
But we only started to feel more at home with EASy II toward the end of the demo flight. With a few more months and some 100 flight hours in the cockpit, we'd likely be as adept as a teen with a Wii console.
Even with all its capabilities, the EASy II FMS performance computing module wasn't yet certified, so Sarsten manually computed the takeoff data and we plugged it into the flight management takeoff window in the MFD. Vancouver International, elevation 14 ft., was reporting winds 080 at 7 kt., temperature 15C, altimeter 29.70 in. Hg. Based on using SF2 (slats plus flaps 20 deg.), the V1 takeoff decision speed was 107 KIAS, rotation was 112 KIAS, the V2 OEI takeoff safety speed was 116 KIAS and “clean the wing” slat/flap retraction speed was 141 KIAS. Computed takeoff field length was 3,427 ft.
Using the embedded electronic checklist, we ran through the pre-start checks. As Nese advanced to each item on the checklist, EASy II automatically called up the associated system synoptic on the MFD so that we could graphically verify the correct status of each system. Advancing the checklist cursor to the aux hydraulic pump item, for instance, EASy II called up the hydraulic system schematic, thereby enabling us to see the proper operation of the pump.
Nese pointed out the 2000S's quiet, dark cockpit design. However, the backlighted membrane switches in the overhead panel lack the tactile feedback of toggle switches used in pre-EASy Falcon 2000 aircraft. Thus, your eyes carefully need to guide your fingers when completing cockpit checks. But systems synoptic diagrams, printed on the overhead panel, clear up any ambiguity about what button to select and when to push it.
To start, we just turned on all boost pumps, advanced the right power lever to idle, twisted the engine start switch all the way to the right and monitored the indications of proper FADEC operation. In 35 sec., the first engine stabilized at idle and we repeated the process for the left engine, then secured the APU. Total fuel burn at idle was 720 pph.
After completing the post-start checklists, it took little more than idle thrust to start rolling out of the chocks. Braking action was very smooth. Nosewheel steering is controlled exclusively by the tiller. It's easy to make small heading changes. But if you need more steering authority, it comes on in a hurry as you turn the tiller past about 45 deg.
The tower directed us to line up and wait on Runway 8R as adeparted. I called for the standard-takeoff Falcon “FATS” line-up check — Nese responded with “Flaps SF2, airbrakes retracted, trim three set and speeds bugs set.”
Once cleared for takeoff, we advanced the thrust levers to about 50% holding the brakes, checked the gauges and then pushed them fully forward while releasing the brakes. At the aircraft's relatively light weight, it accelerated as though it were a light jet. Control forces at rotation also suggested the Falcon 2000S was a light jet, in spite of its 17-ton weight.
Ground roll was about 1,500 ft. We climbed on the 083 runway heading to 1,000 ft. then headed 098 deg. in compliance with the Fraser departure. Vancouver Departure quickly cleared us to climb directly to 16,000 ft., our final requested altitude, and vectored us to intercept V317 to the northwest over the Strait of Georgia. Nese said that normal climb is 300 KIAS/Mach 0.80. We used a 260 KIAS climb to conserve fuel.
After level off at 16,000 ft., we used the auto-throttle to maintain 300 KIAS, flying through several cloud layers until we neared Comox radio beacon on Vancouver Island. In ISA+3C conditions and at a weight of 33,500 lb., the aircraft cruised at 379 KTAS on 2,650 lb./hr. In contrast, had we been up at FL 450, the aircraft would have cruised at 456 KTAS on 800 pph total fuel flow, assuming the same weight and ISA deviation.
Once in clear air, we flew a couple of 360-deg. steep turns. Pitch control force was comparatively light for a large-cabin aircraft. The HUD's flight path marker and thrust director took all the work out of maintaining a 45-deg. bank angle and 300 KIAS.
Next, we slowed the aircraft at idle in the clean configuration with the autopilot engaged to sample the Falcon's automatic auto-throttle engagement for automatic speed protection. The stall warning system generated a sideways magenta teardrop at 135 kt., or 5 kt. above the yellow low-speed cue tape as we maintained 1g flight in the 33,000-lb. aircraft. Had we increased vertical acceleration, the speed warning tape and bug would have increased due to the higher AOA.
Once the aircraft reached 135 KIAS, the auto-throttles automatically engaged and advanced the thrust levers to prevent the aircraft from flying slower, and the aircraft flew itself out of the high AOA state.
We then disengaged both the autopilot and the auto-throttles, again slowing the aircraft at idle. Nese then selected SF2 and the stall warning teardrop dropped to 111 KIAS, again 5 kt. above the yellow low-speed warning tape. Aircraft weight was 32,700 lb. We allowed the aircraft to decelerate to less than 106 KIAS, 5+ kt. below the 111 KIAS teardrop, and then flew a series of shallow turns in the yellow band, occasionally allowing the aircraft to slow to the red tape signifying approach to stall. The aircraft remained completely docile.
Our only clear indication of the excessive AOA was a constant “Stall! Stall! Stall” synthetic voice alert as we flew at 100 KIAS.
As we experienced on previous Falcon Jet demo flights, automatic deployment of leading edge slats as the aircraft nears stalling AOA makes this series of aircraft among the most docile handling business jets yet produced.
We accelerated, cleaned the wing and headed southeast to Abbotsford (elevation 194 ft.) for pattern work, setting up for the ILS Runway 07 approach. Using EASy II's graphic user interface, Nese rolled the cursor to the appropriate icons and items in the flight-planning window on the MFD. He had the approach procedure loaded as fast as one can read the description. He noted that the crew needs to type in a decision altitude for the selected procedure or EASy II won't allow you to engage the flight guidance system's approach mode.
Sarsten computed landing data for slats and flaps 3 (40 deg.) for a 31,200-lb. landing weight. Vref was 113 KIAS and approach speed was 118 KIAS. Computed landing distance was 2,450 ft.
We flew a couple of touch and goes, then set up for a maximum effort, full-stop landing. Runway 7 was wet and not grooved, so we didn't expect the best stopping performance. After a normal flare and touchdown, the ground spoilers automatically deployed and we applied maximum brakes. Judging from our windshield cam video, the 31,000-lb. aircraft came to a stop 1,810 ft. after the tires made contact with the asphalt. Using no-flare touchdown flight test procedures, we could have shortened this distance substantially.
Nese called for our clearance back to Vancouver and we departed Runway 7 via the Abbotsford Seven, picking up radar vectors to the ILS Runway 8R at CYVR. We flew an uneventful approach and taxied back to Avitat.
Conclusions? The Falcon 2000S is so nice to hand-fly, it's difficult to cede control to the autopilot. EASy II provides a wealth of information to the flight crew, particularly with the optional synthetic vision package. The HGS and EVS options are well worth the added investment, in our opinion. EASy II is quick and responsive to pilot inputs. But it takes a considerable investment in time and training to make full use of all of its capabilities.