Dassault rolls out first 2000EX, sans fanfare

 - May 19, 2008, 8:39 AM

Dassault’s rollout on July 19 of the first Falcon 2000EX was a relatively quiet event, with little more than the weather to provide any semblance of drama. There was no flashy new paint job or band to provide music. And the tiny crowd consisted of little more than several dozen employees and members of the media. Even Charles Edelstenne, Dassault Aviation’s chairman, had more pressing affairs.

It was early afternoon at Dassault’s Merignac plant near France’s west coast when the Falcon 2000EX, an upgraded version of the company’s Falcon 2000, was towed to a position in front of an open hangar, and moments later the weather responded with a pouring rain, followed less than 20 min later by sunshine.

It was appropriate. Based on the success of its earlier 2000 model, the company is confident that the EX will require little man-made fanfare to trumpet its market entrance. And despite great expectations for the follow-on to its popular Falcon 2000, Dassault plans little in the way of public display–no public rollout, and with the current test schedule, the airplane will not be at NBAA in New Orleans next month. The original widebody twin has sold well since its first delivery in 1995. More than 150 have been delivered and there is at least an 80-airplane backlog.

Equally important, it has sold well to fractional providers. NetJets holds a firm order for 25 Falcon 2000s, with options for 25 more. The fractional provider will begin receiving the 2000EXs when they start shipping with the EASy cockpit avionics. UAL BizJet, UAL Corp.’s startup frax venture, last month signed a letter of intent that would include a firm order for 40 Falcons, of which 10 are 2000EXs.

With a 25-percent increase in range, and new and quieter Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308C turbofans producing 6,945 lb of takeoff thrust, the 2000EX will preform considerably better than its predecessor.

Maximum range has been extended from 3,000 nm to 3,800 nm, with direct climb to 41,000 ft from sea level at 15 deg C, subsequent climb to 45,000 ft and long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.80, with full fuel, a crew of three and six passengers.

Most Changes Can’t Be Seen

Outwardly, there is little to distinguish the 2000EX from its predecessor. Even the engine nacelles are identical in shape and size. A slight aerodynamic change in the shape of the engine pylon is one of few visible differences, and a 12-percent increase in mtow from 36,500 lb to 40,700 lb prompted Dassault to use the more rugged nose gear from the larger Falcon 900 series. A keen eye will note the curved primary fan blades of the PW308C engines, a slightly different shape at the tail of the fuselage and a few more inches in overall length.

The main improvements are on the inside, and even there, not everything can be seen. Four additional fuel tanks have been added: a 2,200-lb-capacity tank forward of the existing 4,620-lb-capacity fuselage center tank; a second belly tank aft of the center tank carrying 1,620 lb of fuel; and wing tanks, each carrying a total of 3,770 lb.

The new engines and increased fuel capacity were critical to Dassault’s perception of the aircraft’s marketing position. “It’s important that we stay competitive with our friends in Montreal,” said senior v-p Jean-François Georges, referring specifically to Bombardier’s Challenger 604.

Bombardier claims a range of 3,769 nm at Mach 0.80 and max range of 4,077 nm at Mach 0.74 (NBAA IFR reserves with five passengers, two crew and max fuel). The 604 sells green for $19.331 million (as of Aug. 1, 2001), or about $23.6 million typically equipped. Dassault has initially priced its typically equipped 2000EX with the EASy cockpit at slightly over $25 million in 2004 dollars, about $2 million more than anticipated 2004 pricing on the current model.

The engines, encased in mostly composite nacelles of exactly the same dimensions and aerodynamic shape as those of the Falcon 2000 engine nacelle, had their first run-up on the aircraft on July 18. The PW308C has a 32-in. primary fan with titanium blades and has a 4:1 high-bypass ratio with machined-ring combustor and cooled HP turbine for high durability.

Clamshell-type thrust reversers from Nordam have been redesigned with a new lightweight drive mechanism, and an aerodynamic design change acts as an additional means to prevent accidental in-flight deployment. P&WC claims engine noise is well below Stage 3 requirements, and Dassault is confident that additional improvements will enable it to meet the more stringent (but as yet undefined) standards of Stage 4. Engine certification is expected in October this year and deliveries to Dassault are expected to begin “at a very high rate” one month later.

The initial production run of 2000EXs, expected to be about 40 aircraft, will feature the Collins Pro Line 4 avionics found in the current model. Subsequent airplanes, beginning in the second quarter 2004, will come with Dassault’s new EASy cockpit designed around Honeywell’s Primus Epic integrated avionics suite.

The nose landing gear from the larger Falcon 900EX is an obvious concession to the increased weight of the 2000EX. Less obvious are extensive changes to the main gear, including a 30-percent increase in heat-sink weight, new carbon material to increase by 25 percent the number of landings before service and a 41-percent larger piston. Despite these upgrades, the wheels remain 14 in. in diameter.

As for the pilot transition from the 2000 to 2000EX, there will be no type rating change for initial models. Subsequent EXs featuring the EASy cockpit might require a new type rating, “but that’s still being discussed,” said a spokesman.

According to John Rosanvallon, president of U.S.-based Dassault Falcon Jet, the company expects to build both the 2000 and 2000EX into the year 2004, “but the market demand will eventually decide this.” The company currently produces about four Falcon 2000s a month.

The first test flight is expected by the end of October, and by next summer the first 2000EX will be joined by a second in the test flight program. Certification is anticipated in the third quarter of next year, with customer deliveries of finished airplanes scheduled to start at the beginning of 2003. By mid-2003 the production rate for the 2000EX is expected to reach four aircraft a month.

Rosanvallon said the company expects to eventually sell about 250 copies of the 2000, and that total sales of the 2000EX will at least equal that number. “I think it’s a very reasonable objective,” said Rosanvallon.