Operators' Survey: Dassault's Falcon 2000
The original Falcon 2000, powered by two GE/Allied Signal 738 engines, first flew in 1993 and was certified in 1995 as Dassault’s entry into an entirely new twin-engine large-cabin aircraft segment. Because the Falcon 2000 cabin uses the same cross section as the larger Falcon 900, it’s been viewed as a roomy, yet more economical, transcontinental alternative to its three-engine international big brother.
All seven variants of the 2000 created over the past 26 years have continued using the Falcon 900 fuselage cross-section. Between the cockpit and the rear baggage compartment, the Falcon 2000’s cabin measures 26.17 ft. long and 6 ft., 2 in. in height, making the aircraft perfect for operators who want two distinct cabins.
The Falcon 2000 build line in France barely noticed a change in 2003 when the 2000 classic was superseded by the 2000EX. The EX swapped the original powerplants for a pair of more-powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308Cs that added an extra 1,082 lb. of thrust to each engine. The PW308s continue powering all Falcon 2000 variants to this day. Operators said they wondered why Dassault didn’t launch the original 2000 with the tougher P&WC engines, claiming that while the airplane offered many pluses, it was underpowered, especially when the anti-ice was used. One pilot said turning on the anti-ice inflight felt like “We’d just opened the speed brakes.”
The 2000EX’s additional 1,000 nm of range brought its max range to 4,100 nm, which was supported by a 3,800-lb. fuel capacity increase and beefier landing gear and brakes. The 2000EX and the variants that followed operated with a 9.3-psi cabin pressurization differential that delivers a sea level cabin up to 25,300 ft. The aircraft is certified to 47,000 ft. and can climb directly to 41,000 ft. All variants of the Falcon 2000 included leading-edge devices, although some included only outboard slats and others included inboard and outboard devices.
Other Falcon 2000 variants included the 2000EX EASy, based on Honeywell’s Primus Epic system that delivered improved situational awareness and reduced pilot workload through a synthetic vision system delivered to both the head-up and in-panel displays. If there was a hiccup along the way in the 2000’s lineage, it was surely the DX, which could fly just 3,250 nm. Dassault delivered only a handful of that aircraft before halting production. When the 2000LX debuted, it came with Aviation Partners winglets and EASy II avionics. The Falcon 2000LXS, which replaced the LX, included the EASy II cockpit but added inboard leading-edge slats to improve runway performance. The LXS offers a 4,000-nm range while the 2000S model will fly up to 3,350 nm. The 2000LXS can easily transport six passengers and two crewmembers nonstop between New York and Rome at Mach 0.80 and has a top speed of Mach 0.85. Of the 654 Falcon 2000s that have rolled off the production line in Bordeaux, France, 230 were the 2000 classic model. The 2000LXS and the 2000S are the only two variants currently in production.
New Castle, Delaware-based Dumont Aviation is relatively new to operating the classic Falcon 2000. The FAR Part 135 charter company obtained its first Model 2000 in 2017 and eventually bought 27 of them from NetJets as the fractional retired the aircraft from its fleet. All 27 aircraft are similarly equipped. Dumont CEO Daniel Piraino told BCA, “The Falcon 2000 platform is simply fantastic. Our clients love the airplane. It’s quiet, smooth and very comfortable. The performance is superb; operating economics are very good.…” Dumont regularly operates its 2000s on New York to Florida routes as well as from the U.S. East Coast to the Los Angeles Basin. The only weak spot Piraino and his team has experienced with their Falcons has been with “the Honeywell/GE 738 engine support. The support is terrible, to speak frankly. Fortunately, we are able to service our own needs.”
The company solved its problem by forming Dumont Parts, “the world’s largest stock of Falcon 2000 parts.” The company will “continue to support this fleet for the foreseeable future. In fact, we have an inventory of Falcon 2000 engines, the only stock in the world available for lease and sale.”
Two longtime Falcon 2000 pilots from the U.S. Midwest offered their perspectives on the aircraft. Chuck Willke, recently retired from Allstate Insurance after flying the 2000 series for 24 years, says, “I first flew Falcon 2000 serial number six. Allstate had a Falcon 50 on order at the time, but Dassault loaned us a 2000 to cover a trip because our 50 was late being delivered.” When the company realized that the cost and the performance of the 2000 were about the same as the 50, but the cabin was so much more spacious, Allstate bought serial number six.
“The company operated a pair of 2000 classics for 10 years and then traded them for newer models every decade,” Willke says. That pattern continues today as Allstate flies its 2000S models about 700-800 hr. each annually. The company once considered buying the Bombardier Challenger 600 series but decided it loved the 2000 series too much, especially since the Falcons “had a 99% dispatch reliability.” Allstate operates the 2000s domestically and, Willke reports, “The 2000 did all the trips to Alaska, Mexico and the Caribbean perfectly. We only had to stop for gas when we flew to Hawaii.” Willke has logged 10,000 hr. in the airframe.
The other Midwestern pilot, Dave Ball, flies both the Falcon 2000LXS and the 900LX. He spoke highly of the Falcon’s performance, especially on takeoff. Ball said his company’s standard operating procedures show 5,000 ft. of runway as a real starting point to operate the 2000, but his many years of experience have shown him that it “can operate safely from a 4,200- to 4,500-ft. runway, so long as it’s dry. You just need to be careful that the runway is at least 100 ft. wide.”