Dassault Falcon 50
|First flight||7 November 1976|
|Primary users||Armee de l'Air
South African Air Force
Italian Air Force
|Developed from||Dassault Falcon 20|
|Variants||Dassault Falcon 900|
The Dassault Falcon 50 is a French-built super mid-sized, long-range corporate jet, featuring a three jet engine layout with an S-duct central engine. It has the same fuselage cross section and similar capacity as the earlier Falcon 20 twinjet but is a completely new design that is area ruled and includes a more advanced wing design.
Design and development
The first prototype flew on 7 November 1976, with French airworthiness certification on 27 February 1979, followed by U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification on 7 March 1979. Dassault developed a maritime surveillance and environmental protection version as the Gardian 50
The Falcon 50 was later replaced by the Falcon 50EX, the first of which flew in 1996, and the last of which was delivered in 2008. The Falcon 50EX features improved engines and other enhancements to give further range improvements to an already long-legged jet. It remains a very popular corporate jet for its long-range, luxury, and for the recognition of status for owning a fast three-engined jet. The Falcon 50EX designation applies to serial numbers 251, and 253–352, which marks the end of the production line for the Falcon 50/50EX.
The last Falcon 50EX was built in late 2007 and delivered in early 2008.
Successors of the Falcon 50 are the Falcon 7X and the Falcon 900 featuring a larger fuselage and the same three-engine arrangement. Dassault announced in January 2008 what is essentially a replacement aircraft for the Falcon 50, codenamed the "SMS" (Super Mid Size). The basic design process, including engine select was supposed to be completed by the early 2009. However, in a June 2009 press conference, CEO Charles Edelstenne said that all design choices had been reopened and the goal was extended to the end of the year.
During the Iran–Iraq War several oil tankers had been sunk and in 1986 this led to Iran moving their oil exports to the Sirri Island oil terminal, an island that was out of reach of the Iraqi Air Force reconnaissance. The Iraqi air force did operate two Dassault Mirage F1 variants, the F1EQ-4 and F1EQ-5, equipped for in-flight refueling that could reach the oil terminal, but was reluctant to use them because that capability was still a secret. The Iraqi Intelligence Service operated a Falcon 50 in VIP configuration and offered to install reconnaissance cameras in it, and then fly a clandestine sortie over Sirri Island. It would look just like one of the many airliners flying along local commercial corridors.
The aircraft had the civil registration YI-ALE and Iraqi Airways markings, it took off from Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan and was carrying a crew of two plus three experienced Mirage pilots. Heading to Mumbai airport in India, the aircraft passed about 30 kilometers west of Sirri island. This was close enough for the crew to take photos using a hand-held camera with a powerful optical zoom. They repeated the same procedure on the way back to Jordan the next day. The photographs facilitated a successful attack on the oil terminal on Sirri island with Mirage aircraft.
The Iraqi Air Forces Mirage F1EQ-5 was equipped with Exocet missiles but could only carry one. An aircraft that could carry two Exocet missiles and that would not draw attention to it self was desired, the Falcon 50 was thought to be suitable. Thales Group was asked to modify the aircraft with the same radar and weapons system of the Mirage F1EQ-5, for alleged pilot training purposes.
The attack on USS Stark
Early on 17 May 1987 a pilot from the No. 81 Squadron took off on the first attack mission from Wahda Air Base, 45 km south-west of Basra. At the edge of the Iraqi-declared exclusion zone north of Bahrain a medium sized naval vessel was identified. The pilot determined that it was about to enter the exclusion zone and attacked the vessel with both Exocet missiles. The Iraqi government apologized and claimed that “The pilot mistook Stark for an Iranian tanker”. The American governmet accepted the apology and assigned blame to Iran instead. American Intelligence was convinced it was a Mirage F1 that did the attack.
- The Italian Air Force operated four Falcon 50s from 1985 until 2005, when two aircraft were retired
- Royal Jordanian Air Force
- Jordanian Royal Flight
Accidents and incidents
- Assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira: Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan military, two Burundian ministers, and seven others were killed when Habyarimana's Dassault Falcon 50 was shot down over Kigali airport on 6 April 1994. The assassination of Habyarimana triggered the Rwandan genocide. The plane crashed on the grounds of the presidential residence.
- 2014 Falcon 50 Vnukovo ground collision: On 20 October 2014 (2014.10.201.2357 Moscow Local Time) Falcon 50EX F-GLSA was departing from Vnukovo International Airport on a flight to Paris when the landing gear hit a SnowPlough snow removal vehicle. The aircraft attempted to land after the pilot reported an engine fire and damage to the fuselage, the Falcon landing gear collapsed when it landed hard and the aircraft turned upside down and was destroyed by fire. All four on board were killed, three crew members (Yann Pican, Maxime Rassiat, Ruslana Vervelle) and CEO of Total S.A. oil and gas company Christophe de Margerie.
Data from Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1988–89 
- Crew: Two
- Capacity: 8 to 9 passengers
- Length: 60 ft 9¼ in (18.52 m)
- Wingspan: 61 ft 10½ in (18.86 m)
- Height: 22 ft 10½ in (6.98 m)
- Wing area: 504.1 ft² (46.83 m²)
- Empty weight: 20,200 lb (9,163 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 38,800 lb (17,600 kg) Falcon 50; 40,780 lbs (18,500 kb) Falcon 50EX ()
- Powerplant: 3 × Garrett TFE731-3-1C on Falcon 50 / 3 x Honeywell TFE731-40 on Falcon 50EX models turbofan engines, 16.5 kN (3,700 lbf) each
- Maximum speed: Mach 0.86 Indicated Mach (0.842 True Mach) (900 km/h, 484 knots, 557 mph)
- Cruise speed: Mach 0.80 Indicated Mach (0.786 True Mach) (837 km/h, 452 knots, 520 mph)
- Range: 3,000 nm, 3,450 mi / 5,555 km (Falcon 50); 3,220 nm, 3,700 mi / 5,965 km (Falcon 50EX) ()
- Service ceiling: 49,000 ft (14,935 m) - Typical Cruise Altitude 37,000 ft Falcon 50; 41,000-43,000 ft Falcon 50EX
Collins ProLine4 Falcon 50EX
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Related lists
- Taylor 1988, p.75.
- Taylor 1993, p.928
- Official website Aeronautica Militare
- "ASN Aircraft accident Dassault Falcon 50 9XR-NN Kigali". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
- Raymond Bonner (November 12, 1994). "Unsolved Rwanda Mystery: The President's Plane Crash". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- Accident description for ASN Aircraft accident 20-OCT-2014 Dassault Falcon 50EX F-GLSA at the Aviation Safety Network
- Taylor 1988, pp.75–76.
- Taylor, Michael J. H. (1993). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions.
- Taylor, John W. R. (editor). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1988–89. Coulsdon, Surrey, UK: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 0-7106-0867-5.
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