The prototype (above)is a Falcon 2000DX reconfigured with the 2000S wing
Dassault Aviation's new Falcon 2000S represents a strategy to create a new class of business aircraft.
Initially it will go head to head with the likes of the Bombardier Challenger 300, Gulfstream G250 and Hawker 4000, all of which are of a similar external size.
Of the four competing aircraft, the Falcon 2000S has the longest cabin length, at 8m (26ft), the greatest cabin width (2.5m external/2.34m internal), the largest cabin volume at 29m3 (1,000ft3) and the highest head height from a flat floor (1.88m). Furthermore, it comes with seating for 10 passengers.
All this will deliver essential requirements for passenger comfort, including a large forward galley, a full-sized rear bathroom, an in-flight accessible baggage area, a dedicated cabin attendant rest seat, a galley/cabin dividing door, a passenger wardrobe and an advanced baggage loading system (for all those unfortunate corporate pilots who not only fly, but also have to "hump and dump" the passenger bags).
Flight testing of the Falcon 2000S began in February. The test campaign is scheduled to span 200 test flights and last until mid-2012. First deliveries are set for early 2013.
The Falcon 2000S shares the same external dimensions as the Falcon 2000LX but this will be no Dassault "rebranding" effort because, at its core, the Falcon 2000S is destined to be a new aircraft. Dassault has set out five clear and important design drivers for the jet.
The first, and possibly one of the most critical for the flight-test campaign, is to incorporate the Aviation Partners (API) winglet-equipped wing of the Falcon 2000LX (of lighter construction), but upgrade it with the inboard slat system used on the wing of the Falcon 900LX, which is of exactly the same size, shape and section as the 2000LX's but of a heavier construction to support the 900LX's greater maximum take-off weight.
The combination of the large winglets, a fully slatted wing (now with both inboard and outboard slat pairs) and a lighter construction means that the Falcon 2000S can generate a considerable increase in available lift in its take-off, landing, and cruise configurations.
Dassault intends to take full advantage of this, in terms of required runway distances, reference speeds and overall range, but without sacrificing the Falcon's trademark pilot handling qualities, so evident to me when I evaluated the 2000LX and the 900LX (Flight International, 12-18 May 2009 and 30 November-6 December 2010).
Dassault chose not to take advantage of the lift increase that the winglets give the 2000LX and the 900LX, so that operators upgrading from the 2000EX or 900EX models would not require new take-off/landing performance manuals.
With the 2000S at its MTOW of 18,600kg (41,000lb), the balanced field length (sea level, international standard atmosphere) for take-off is expected to be 1,360m (4,450ft), some 120-150m less than that for the Challenger 300/G250/Hawker 4000 group. However, the 2000S has an MTOW that is 635-900kg heavier than that of those types.
With this MTOW, the 2000S can climb directly to flight level 410 in 19min, mid-cruise reclimb to FL450, and with six passengers, flying at Mach 0.8 with NBAA IFR reserves, achieve a maximum range of 3,350nm (6,200km), 100-250nm further than any of its rivals can achieve in this same configuration.
At a typical end-of-flight landing weight of around 12,700kg, the landing distance required by the 2000S is expected to be just 790m, with a VREF (final approach speed) of just 108kt (200km/h). This will take the 2000S into landing and take-off performance territory that closely matches or even betters that of twin-turbo propeller light commuter aircraft.
LARGEST USABLE PAYLOAD
Additionally, the 2000S, like its Falcon siblings, will be London City airport/steep-approach certificated, unlike any of its listed competitors. The icing on the performance cake is that the 2000S retains the largest usable payload (840kg), with maximum fuel, of any aircraft within this group by a significant margin (up to 360kg).
The 2000S's maximum landing weight, at 17,840kg, is 96% of its MTOW, and 2,500-2,950kg more than any MLW quoted for the Challenger 300/G250/Hawker 4000 group.
After the wing, the second design driver will be a completely redesigned flightdeck featuring the new and highly advanced Dassault EASy II cockpit, now in the final stages of certification to equip all future Falcons.
The third driver will be a passenger cabin that is advanced - in connectivity terms for example - and luxurious (thanks to BMW Designworks USA), but nonetheless adhering to a standard layout/configuration to aid the fourth driver: to significantly reduce the total price by driving down the cost of individual completions.
Prat & Whitney PW308C engines power the 2000S
The last driver will be the improved Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308C engines, designated for the 2000S, featuring a new combustor that will further reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 20% compared with the previous 308C model, enhancing the green credentials of the 2000S. It will retain the lowest cruise fuel consumption (around 1.6kg/nm at M0.8) over the longest distance, compared with its competitors.
Dassault estimates that fuel costs are now 35% of an aircraft's overall cost and more than 55% of its variable cost. With oil prices at record highs, owners and operators will have to embrace economy, just as modern airlines have.
Although the 2000S is at the early stages of flight testing, I on behalf of Flight International was granted an exclusive preview to evaluate its handling qualities, before its launch announcement at the EBACE business aviation show in Geneva, but in its engineering prototype form, using a Falcon 2000DX test aircraft (registration F-WWGP) reconfigured with the new 2000S wing and with the full slat system operational.
The 2000DX test aircraft will be used for all the extensive runway and climb type flight testing, which will allow Dassault to write a new set of 2000S performance manuals while at the same time confirming the low-speed handling qualities of the wing, fine-tuning autopilot and auto-throttle functions, adjusting low-speed awareness cues, updating the crew alerting system and aircraft system cockpit display synoptics, and checking the new 2000S engine bleed and wing/slat anti-ice system.
Dassault has adjusted the first slat/flap setting (SF1) on the 2000S to give 7° flap, as opposed to 10° on the 2000LX. The horizontal stabiliser range is now +1/-11°, compared with +2/-10° for the 2000LX, as the fully slatted and winglet-increased wing tends to generate a greater pitch-down moment, similar to the 900LX's.
Other control changes are minor. But the test campaign will still cover most of the European and US FAR 23 certification schedule expected for a brand-new aircraft, which again underscores just how different Dassault views this aircraft while placing it within its complete range of Falcon business jets.
The evaluation flight took place at Istres, in southern France, on a warm spring day in mid-April. I was ably assisted by Jean-Louis Dumas, the Dassault Falcon 2000S project test pilot in the right-hand seat, and Michel Brunet, the project's flight-test engineer on the central jump seat.
I would fly the complete sortie from the left-hand seat. My objective was simple: through a series of standard test points and general handling, I would seek to discern whether the 2000S wing brought any changes in handling behaviour - particularly at low speed - from that which I had noted in my evaluations of the 2000LX and the 900LX.
F-WWGP was configured with water ballast and test equipment, giving it a basic operating weight, including crew, of 13,870kg - much higher than the basic weight of the production 2000S, expected to be around 11,240kg. The fuel was 2,725kg and centre of gravity at take-off around 14.4%. Take-off speeds - with slat-flap 1 (SF1) selected, and aircraft weight at 16,570kg - were V1/VR 115, V2 122, VFR 147, VREF (immediate return) 123. Dassault's test department said that these speeds were conservative. It expects to reduce them as further test data is completed and analysed.
On gear and slat/flap retraction after take-off, accelerating to 180kt, I felt no pitch change different from that of the 2000LX. Turning downwind we immediately chased and joined into close formation with the Beechcraft Baron (BE-58) photo-ship cruising at 160-170kt at 1,500ft. Once again the Falcon seemed to handle like a fighter as I positioned the aircraft around the Baron at various photo angles and distances.
Peter Collins has tested the Dassault Falcon 7X, 2000LX, 900LX and now the 2000S for Flightglobal
In stages, while in close formation, we configured through SF1, SF2 and SF3/gear down (GD). At all times, the aircraft's handling, in a demanding close-loop task, remained impeccable both longitudinally and laterally. After the photoshoot was complete we climbed to FL150 for low-speed handling assessments including V2+10 climbs, at an aircraft weight of around 15,440kg, in the configurations of SF1 (129kt), SF2 (122kt) and SF3/GD (120kt). In all three climbs, the aircraft was manoeuvred aggressively at up to 40° angle of bank and it always maintained over 10kt clearance above the pilot flying display's stall-warning red speed-tape line and exhibited no wing buffet.
Steady heading sideslips, in all three configurations, showed no abnormalities directionally with the fully slatted wing being deliberately yawed. Similarly, approach to stall (up to the audio warning of "stall") was completely benign. To recover back to Istres, we configured at SF3/GD, Airbrake 1 (AB1) for a simulated 5.5° London City steep approach at a VREF +5 of 125kt. The aircraft felt rock steady in all axes and very speed-stable, while I again manoeuvred aggressively in bank.
Close-in visual circuits were then flown to the low overshoot, roller landings and a full-stop landing from a massive lateral offset (300m) at short finals (300ft). With the aircraft weight at around 15,200kg the final approach VREF at SF3/GD was 119kt. During all of these different configuration, speed, power, pitch and bank-angle changes, the aircraft felt exactly the same to me as the 900LX or the 2000LX had done previously.
A pilot will not be able to tell the difference in handling characteristics between the 2000S, 2000LX and 900LX series. In the post-flight debrief, I had nothing to comment on to Dassault - testament to the fact that this early test phase has vindicated the 2000S design and the control changes made. The 2000S (prototype) aircraft is, like all other Falcons, a joy for pilots to fly.
Once again, I was highly impressed by a Dassault business jet and the breadth and depth of Dassault's engineering quality and design excellence. The quoted performance, speeds and payload figures that the 2000S is expected to achieve, and the operational flexibility it will deliver, are, I believe, going to redefine the 2000S as a new class of business jet - because I am not sure if its closest competitors will be able to live with it.
It has the potential to become the default future aircraft choice of many fractional business jet operators that will adore its mixture of lower price and cabin luxury/advanced connectivity, allied to the economy of its fuel burn.
For pilots lucky enough to fly it in the future, the advanced and luxurious EASy II 2000S cockpit will continue to be, in my opinion, the best civil aircraft cockpit in the world - and the one with the best man-machine interface.
Dassault says that the "S" in the 2000S name has no real significance other than to show that the aircraft is a distinct model and the newest member of the Falcon business jet range, and to allude to its fully slatted wing.
My prediction is that the S will come to stand for success, as that is what this aircraft is destined to achieve.
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