The Dassault Falcon 50 is a mid-sized, long-range corporate jet, unique in the corporate jet world for its three jet engine layout. Two preliminary projects were presented to customers in 1973 -- the Falcon 20-3, a trijet derivative of the Mystere 20 based on the Falcon 20 airframe, and the Falcon 25, powered by three Garrett engines and featuring a new fuselage and tail assembly. US customers proved to be particularly demanding. They wanted the fuselage to be wider, longer and higher "with room to stand up". Marcel Dassault decided that the financial risk was too great: "Let's start with the fuselage we have and a solid engine like the Garrett TFE731-3."
Why three engines? Because a transcontinental aircraft must also have transatlantic capability and, at that time, twin-engine commercial transports were not cleared for over-ocean flight. It was decided that the Falcon 25 designation had to go -- it gave the impression that the concept was an old one. Its name was changed to Falcon 50 to show that it was newer than the Falcon 30-40. This particular version, called the Falcon 50A, was dropped in favor of the Falcon 50B with a new supercritical wing to optimize its speed and range.
The Falcon 50 appeared on the market in 1977, the first long-haul three-jet aircraft in the family (8 to 12 passengers). The Falcon 50 improved on the earlier model with a unique three-engine arrangement, in a manner similar to that of the Boeing 727. It was also the first of which the airframe was designed by a computerised three-dimensional method, and the first made in part of composite materials (carbon fiber ailerons).
On April 26, Serge Dassault disclosed development of an advanced Falcon 50 derivative called the Falcon 50EX, which differs from the Falcon 50 in engines and avionics but retains the same basic airframe. Major enhancements include climb capability (41,000 ft in 23 minutes at max takeoff weight) and an increase in range of approximately 400 nm at .80 Mach. Three new AlliedSignal TFE731-40 engines provide 24% more cruise thrust with a 7% improvement in specific fuel consumption. Avionics include a Falcon 2000-like system with Collins Pro Line 4 EFIS and Sextant EIEDs.
In 1996 Falcon 50EX test flights begin. In February, s/n 252 flew at Little Rock with the Collins Pro Line 4 avionics suite; in April, s/n 251 flies with the AlliedSignal TFE731-40 engines and Sextant EIEDs. Using two development aircraft helps Dassault achieve certification sooner and at lower cost. Performance gains are impressive: with its higher thrust and improved fuel specifics, the 50EX can fly typical Falcon 50 missions at .80 instead of .75 Mach.
The intercontinental Falcon 50 was not very popular, partly due to its small-diameter fuselage. This problem was rectified in the larger Falcon 900, which is a completely new aircraft retaining the family looks.
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