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Mystère 20 / Falcon 20 / Fan-jet Falcon / Falcon 200

Falcon 20 (Mystère 20 in France) and 200 family is the Dassault's most successful business jet, with more than 500 built. The Dassault Falcon 20 was the first of a family of highly successful business jets built by French aviation manufacturer Dassault. Formerly named Societé des Avions Marcel Bloch or MB, the Dassault Aviation is a French aircraft manufacturer of military, regional and business jets. It was also one of the first corporate jets designed, with development going back to the 1950s. Development of the original Mystère 20 traces back to a joint collaboration between Sud Aviation (which later merged into Aerospatiale) and Dassault in the late 1950s.

Dassault's first business jet design The Miterran, created on paper in 1954, featured two jet engines under the wing. Few realize that the engines as well as the airframe were a Dassault design, based on the Armstrong-Siddeley Viper (which Dassault produced under license), but with an added compression stage to produce over 3000 lb of thrust. Outboard of the engines, underwing fuel pods provided a range of about 1500 nm. The idea was abandoned for reasons of cost and fuel consumption. Though ahead of its time, the Miterran did lead to later developments.

The first Falcon began as the Myste 20. Its wing was derived from the Myste IV fighter series and its engines were two Pratt & Whitney JT-12s. Bearing more resemblance to an airliner than a light aircraft, its success is immediate and lasting. Prototype construction began in January 1962, leading to a first flight on May 4 1963. In May 1963, Charles Lindbergh (acting on behalf of Pan American World Airways), flew to Bordeaux to witness the Myste 20's second or third flight. On seeing it again at the 1963 Paris Air Show, Lindbergh wired Juan Trippe: "We have our plane." First flight of the aircraft equipped with the General Electric engines took place in July 1964.

Production versions differed from the prototype in several respects, including engines (General Electric CF700-2B) and wing (larger span with drooped leading edges for better airfield performance). Ultimately, nearly 500 of these handsome aircraft-generally regarded as the best-looking business jet ever built-were manufactured. Over the years, full-span leading-edge slats, larger fuel capacity and higher thrust engines were offered as continuing product improvements.

The Falcon 20 is one of a series of business jets manufactured by the French firm of Dassault-Breguet. The aircraft, with a gross weight of 28 660 pounds, lies in a weight class about midway between the JetStar and the Gates Learjet 24B. Power is supplied by two General Electric CF700 aft fan engines of 4315 pounds thrust each and bypass ratio 1.9. The Falcon 20 is used extensively in the United States and is frequently referred to as the Fan-jet Falcon in this country.

The aircraft has a maximum payload capability of 3320 pounds and features a cabin that can accommodate 8 to 10 passengers. With a reduced payload of 1600 pounds, the aircraft has a range of 2 220 miles. Maximum cruising speed is 535 miles per hour at 25 000 feet, and cost-economical speed is 466 miles per hour at 40 000 feet. The corresponding Mach numbers are 0.77 and 0.70, respectively.

Configuration of the Falcon 20 is characterized by a wing of 30° sweepback angle, an aspect ratio of 6.5, and airfoil-section thickness ratios that vary from 10 percent at the root to 8 percent at the tip. Figure 14.6 shows a large flow-control fence on top of the wing part way between the root and tip. A leading-edge flap, similar to an unslotted slat, is employed inboard of the fence and a conventional slat is utilized outboard. A single-slotted trailing-edge flap completes the high-lift system. Lateral control is provided by ailerons alone. Spoilers located ahead of the flaps are deployed symmetrically to increase the drag for braking and rapid descent and are not part of the lateral control system. Longitudinal control is provided by elevators, and trim is maintained with an electrically driven stabilizer. With the exception of the stabilizer, all the movable surfaces are hydraulically actuated. In addition to use as an executive transport, the aircraft is also available in a cargo version.

The Falcon 20 began as the Myste 20 (actually, Myste XX). As the prototype was built jointly by Dassault and Sud-Aviation, both manufacturers' names appeared on the certification documents. In 1966, Pan Am decided to use an American name, judging it more attractive for its clientele. After briefly considering (and rejecting) "Baby Jet," it decided on Fan Jet Falcon, which later became, simply, Falcon 20. The Falcon designation took hold in the USA and in most parts of the world-Falcon 10, Falcon 50, Falcon 100, Falcon 200 and Falcon 900 soon followed in a family-like imitation of the Falcon 20 nomenclature. In Europe, the tendency is to follow the American style of calling the aircraft Falcons when speaking English, but not necessarily when speaking French. The French generally use Myste 20 for the time-honored Falcon 20, but call the others Myste-Falcon 10, Myste-Falcon 50, etc., in an apparent attempt to keep everyone satisfied.

The Falcon 20 was ideal for Federal Express. It could reach any point in the continental U.S. from the company's Memphis base, its cabin was large, its payload was excellent and-especially important to the small-package business-it didn't "weigh out" before it "cubed out," or vice-versa. Beginning in 1971, Federal Express purchased a fleet of 33 Falcon 20s and modified them for cargo use. Cargo doors were fitted, special flooring with tie-downs was installed and cabin windows were covered. This work was performed by Little Rock Airmotive, which was later purchased by Falcon Jet to form the nucleus of its own production/completion operation.

The Falcon 20 was produced in a number of evolutionary variations. The first delivered to customers was the Falcon 20 Standard, beginning in 1965. The Standard is often referred to, quite erroneously, as Falcon 20C. Actually, only one true C model was built and it was converted to a D. All the other so-called Cs are really Standards. In 1968, the Falcon 20D was introduced, with more powerful engines and brakes. It did not replace the Standard, but joined it side-by-side on the assembly line. In 1970, the relatively rare Falcon 20E was introduced, with CF700-2D2 engines, larger fuel capacity and higher operating weights-all the features of the later Falcon 20F except full-span leading-edge slats (the 20E had drooped leading edges like the Standard and D). The Falcon 20F was also introduced in 1970, beginning with s/n 236.

At first, the D, E and F models were produced simultaneously, but after 1976 only the F was built. The Falcon 20G, built and tested in 1977, was essentially a Falcon 20F modified to accept the Garrett ATF3 engine under consideration for the U.S. Coast Guard's HU-25A medium-range surveillance program. In 1978, the Falcon 20H carried the 20G concept one step further, with more integral fuel, higher payload and modern Falcon 50-type electrical and hydraulic systems.

Falcon 200

Though temporarily shelved during the HU-25A competition, the 20H was refined with EFIS, a large baggage compartment and other changes in 1981, and became the Falcon 200. After the Falcon 20 there appeared on the market in 1981 the Falcon 200, the last version of the Falcon 20. The Falcon 200 is a re-engined development of the 20 which Dassault first publicly announced at the 1979 Paris Airshow. Falcon 200 is announced as successor to the earlier Falcon 20H concept. Performance and economy "like a Falcon 50 with two engines" win high reviews from operators.

The improved Falcon 200 featured more advanced jet engines and other major improvements to increase range, capacity and comfort. The aircraft proved to be so popular that production continued until 1988, being superseded by more advanced developments of the Falcon family. The United States Coast Guard operates a model called the HU-25 Falcon which is used as a high-speed spotter aircraft to quickly locate shipwreck survivors and direct slower-moving aircraft and rescue vessels, and interdict aerial and shipborne drug trafficing.

Falcon 20 special versions

Many Falcons, especially of the 20 series, have seen unusual types of service. The following is a partial list:

  • Serial number 73 was modified and certified at the request of an Australian customer for operation on dirt, gravel, grass and similar unimproved surfaces.
  • Beginning in 1965, Falcon 20s modified for airways calibration were built for the French, Spanish, Iranian and Indonesian governments.
  • Norway had two Falcon 20s (s/n 41 and 53) modified for electronic warfare missions. Similar aircraft were later delivered to Morocco and other countries.
  • S/n 157 was equipped with special measuring equipment as well as visible-light, ultraviolet and radar cameras for resource exploration.
  • S/n 329 is a special weather-research aircraft built for a West German government agency.
  • Beginning in 1972, several Falcon 20s equipped for high-altitude photographic survey were delivered to France, Canada and several other countries.
  • S/n 49 was sent to the French Air Force as a target tow.
  • S/n 124, 131 and 145 were used by the French Air Force as flying test beds for weapons, radar systems, etc.
  • Beginning in 1967, air-ambulance Falcon 20s were delivered to Europe Assistance. They have flown hundreds of medevac flights per year for 20 years.
  • S/n 115, 186 and 190 were Falcon STs, or weapons system trainers used in France and elsewhere. Their copilot positions were reconfigured to match fighter cockpits. A control stick was fitted in place of the copilot's yoke, along with the correct fighter instrument panel and weapons systems, including the Cyrano radar. The first became operational in 1969.
  • In 1973, s/n 001 was converted to simulate variable flight characteristics. Capable of simultaneous acceleration on all six axes and planes of flight, it was used to test human adaptability to flying qualities and flight-instrument symbology, to develop fly-by-wire control systems, etc.
  • Beginning in 1971, 33 Falcon 20s were converted to a large cargo-door configuration for Federal Express. Many are still in service with a variety of freight carriers.
  • In 1985, some of the former Federal Express freighters were modified at Falcon Jet Little Rock for the British company, Flight Refueling, for use as target tows and ECM simulators in RAF training.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:53:39 ZULU