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Dassault Falcon 20

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Dassault Falcon 20

Falcon 20 (Mystère 20)
HU-25 Guardian
Civilian Falcon 20
Role Business jet
Manufacturer Dassault Aviation
First flight 4 May 1963
Introduction 3 Jun 1965
Status Out of production, in active service
Primary users Federal Express
French Navy
United States Coast Guard
Cobham Aviation
Produced 1963-1988
Number built 508
Variants Dassault Falcon 10
Dassault Falcon 50

The Dassault Falcon 20 is a French business jet and was the first of a family of business jets built by Dassault Aviation.

Design and development

Marcel Dassault gave the go-ahead for production of an eight or ten seat executive jet or military liaison aircraft the Dassault-Breguet Mystère 20 in December 1961. The Mystère 20 was a low-wing monoplane with two rear-mounted Pratt & Whitney JT12A-8 engines. The prototype, registered F-WLKB, first flew on 4 May 1963 at Bordeaux-Merignac. Under the influence of Pan American the aircraft was re-engined with two General Electric CF700 engines and some dimensions were increased. Pan American signed a contract to distribute the Mystère 20 in the western hemisphere and ordered 40 aircraft with options on 120. The re-engined aircraft first flew on 10 July 1964. The first production aircraft flew on 1 January 1965 and both French and American certification was awarded in June 1965. On 10 June 1965, Jacqueline Auriol set the women's world record speed in the first Mystère 20 prototype, F-WLKB, with an average speed of 859 kilometers per hour over 1000 km. This prototype was used in the 1966 comedy How to Steal a Million, starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. The Deliveries began to the Pan American outfitting facility at Burbank Airport, California. In 1966 the company re-designated the American-delivered aircraft as the Fan Jet Falcon, this later became the Falcon 20. Military orders from Australia and Canada were received. All non-American aircraft were fitted out before delivery at Bordeaux-Merignac. In 1967 Pan American Business Jets Division, a business unit of Pan American World Airways, increased their firm orders to 160 aircraft.

Some Falcon 20s powered by General Electric CF700 engines were reengined with Garrett TFE731 engines under AMD-BA Service Bulletin No. 731.[1] These aircraft were redesignated with a "-5" after the model number. Volpar, Inc. worked on a program to reengine Falcon 20s with the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW305 engines,[2] but the program was abandoned before a FAA STC was awarded.[3]

FAA Supplemental Type Certificate SA5858SW, held by Dassault Falcon Jet allows the installation of underwing pylons on the Fan Jet Falcon, Fan Jet Falcon Series D and Fan Jet Falcon Series E. This modification is commonly used to modify Falcon 20s to operate as special mission aircraft with underwing stores.[4]

The sole Falcon 30 30-seat aircraft intended for airline use

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 did not end until 1988, being superseded by more advanced developments of the Falcon family. The Falcon 20G, HU-25 and Falcon 200 were powered by Garrett ATF3 engines. A total of 473 Falcon 20s and 35 Falcon 200s were built by the time production ended in 1988.[5]

Later developments of the Falcon 20 include the smaller Falcon 10; the larger 30-seat Falcon 30 with a larger fuselage cross section, which was built and flown, but not developed; and the Falcon 50, an improved three-engined development.

In 2012, a Falcon 20 became the first civil jet to fly on 100% biofuel when it performed a test flight for Canada's National Research Council.[6]

In 2013, the FAA modified 14 CFR part 91 rules to prohibit the operation of jets weighing 75,000 pounds or less that are not stage 3 noise compliant after December 31, 2015. The Falcon 20 is listed explicitly in Federal Register 78 FR 39576. Any Falcon 20s that have not been modified by installing Stage 3 noise compliant engines or have not had "hushkits" installed for non-compliant engines will not be permitted to fly in the contiguous 48 states after December 31, 2015. 14 CFR §91.883 Special flight authorizations for jet airplanes weighing 75,000 pounds or less - lists special flight authorizations that may be granted for operation after December 31, 2015.

Operational history

Commercial, corporate, and private use

In April 1973, Federal Express began its air express package delivery service using Falcon 20s out of its distribution center in Memphis, Tennessee. At the height of its use, the cargo airline flew 33 Falcon 20s, until replacing it with larger aircraft. A Falcon 20 that carried the first Federal Express air express package is now on display at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport.[7]

U.S. Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) operated a model called the HU-25 Guardian. The Guardian was used as a high-speed spotter aircraft to locate shipwreck survivors and direct slower-moving aircraft and rescue vessels, and to interdict aerial and shipborne drug trafficking. The first HU-25 was delivered in 1982; by December 1983, 41 aircraft had been acquired. The HU-25 was retired from Coast Guard service in 2014, and replaced by the HC-144 Ocean Sentry.[8]

On September 26, 2014, following 32 years of service, the last operational HU-25 Falcon, the only jet to ever be a part of the air fleet of the US Coast Guard, was retired after landing its final on-duty flight in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Falcon's history of importance in search and rescue, counter drug missions and as a critical asset during the Gulf War has left a major mark on the USCG's aviation legacy.[9] The Falcon's key advantage was greater speed, allowing this plane to get on target faster, crucial for the search and rescue role, and cover great distances quickly to map oil fires during the Gulf War.[10] This high-speed capability will be lost with this type's retirement because its replacements are much slower aircraft.[10]

U.S. Air Force

In 1990, the United States Air Force acquired N20NY (cn 61), a Falcon 20C, for use as a testbed at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.[11] In 2006, the USAF also acquired Coast Guard HU-25A 2125, registered as N448TB (cn 439), for use at Lincoln Laboratory.[12]


In 2011, NASA acquired a former Coast Guard HU-25C for use in Operation IceBridge. The aircraft, based at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, is equipped with a scanning laser altimeter to collect data on Arctic surface topography.[13]


Falcon 20DC freighter of Bancjet Systems at Burbank airport near Los Angeles in September 1986. Note deleted cabin windows
A USCG HU-25 Guardian
Mystère/Falcon 20
Prototype, one built. F-WLKB. Now stored at Musée Air et Espace Aéroport Paris - Le Bourget.
Mystère/Falcon 20C
Initial production version. known originally as the Standard Falcon 20 both examples converted to D model.
Falcon 20CC
One aircraft similar to the Falcon 20C, equipped with low-pressure tyres.
Mystère/Falcon 20D
Higher thrust engines (General Electric CF700-2D) and lower fuel consumption and more fuel capacity.
Mystère/Falcon 20E
Higher thrust engines (General Electric CF700-2D-2), higher zero fuel weight.
Mystère/Falcon 20F
Full leading edge droops and more fuel capacity.
Falcon 20FH
This was the original designation of the Falcon 200 prototype.
Falcon 20G
Maritime patrol and surveillance version, equipped with two Garrett AiResearch ATF3-6-2C turbofan engines.
Falcon 20H
This was the original designation of the Falcon 200.[14]
Falcon 200
Improved variant, powered by two 2360-kg (5,200-lb) Garrett ATF3-6A-4C turbofan engines and with more fuel. First flown 30 April 1980.[14]
Falcon ST
This designation was given to two Falcon 20s used by the French Air Force as systems training aircraft. The aircraft were equipped with the combat radar and navigation systems of the Mirage IIIE.
HU-25A Guardian
United States Coast Guard version of the Falcon 20G. 41 built. Equipped with two Garrett AiResearch Garrett ATF3-6-2C turbofan engines.[15]
HU-25B Guardian
Pollution control version for the US Coast Guard equipped with side-looking airborne radar (SLAR) under fuselage. Seven converted from HU-25As.[16]
HU-25C Guardian
Drug interdiction version for the US Coast Guard, equipped with a Westinghouse APG-66 search radar and WF-360 Forward looking infrared turret. Nine HU-25As converted.[17]
HU-25C+ Guardian
Upgrade of HU-25C, with improved AN/APG-66(V)2 radar and new FLIR turret. All nine HU-25Cs converted.[18]
HU-25D Guardian
Upgraded HU-25A, with AN/APS-143B(V)3 Inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) and same FLIR as HU-25C+. 15 upgraded.[19]
Guardian 2
Maritime patrol and surveillance version of the Falcon 200. Never put into production.
Canadian military designation of Falcon 20C from 1970.
Fan Jet Falcon
The Falcon 20 was marketed in North America under this name.
Falcon Cargo Jet
Conversion of Falcon 20 to light cargo aircraft. Large numbers purchased/converted by Federal Express for overnight courier service.[20]
Falcon 20C-5, 20D-5, 20E-5, 20F-5
Falcon 20 aircraft equipped with Garrett TFE731-5AR-2C or TFE731-5BR-2C engines. Also includes adaptation of bleed air, anti-ice, hydraulic, fuel, electrical and engine control systems and installation of ATTCS (automatic takeoff thrust control system).


Dassault Falcon 20
Spanish Air Force Falcon 20D in 1981
A Pakistan Air Force electronic warfare aircraft.

Civilian operators

  • Private
 United States
 United Kingdom
 South Africa
  • Guardian Air

Former Civilian operators

  • Government of Lebanon
  • Imani Aviation (defunct charter company)
 United States

Military operators

  • Pakistan Air Force - Three aircraft in service as of January 2013.
    • No. 24 Squadron Blinders

Former operators

 Central African Republic
 Ivory Coast
  • Oman Royal Flight
 South Africa
 United States

Specifications (Falcon 20F)

Data from Janes's All The World's Aircraft 1980-81[21]

General characteristics


  • Maximum speed: 862 km/h (465 knots, 536 mph) (max cruise) at 6,100 m (20,000 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 750 km/h (405 knots, 466 mph) (econ cruise) at 12,200m (40,000 ft)
  • Stall speed: 152 km/h (82 knots, 95 mph)
  • Range: 3,350 km (1,808 naut mi, 2,080 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 12,800 m (42,000 ft) (absolute)

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ FAA Type Certificate Data Sheet A7EU Retrieved 26 June 2011
  2. ^ PW305s Ordered for Falcon 20 Upgrade Retrieved 26 June 2011
  4. ^ 'FAA STC SA5858SW Installation of wing pylons and underwing stores' Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  5. ^ Michell 1994, p. 54.
  6. ^
  7. ^ " Dassault Falcon 20."Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved: 13 July 2014.
  8. ^ "HU-25: Guardian." Office of Aviation Forces (CG-711). Retrieved: 13 July 2014.
  9. ^ Coast Guard jet's final landing place: The Oregon coast
  10. ^ a b The Coast Guard Bids A Sad Farewell To Their Last HU-25 Guardian Jet
  11. ^ FAA Registry for N20NY Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  12. ^ FAA Registry for N448TB Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  13. ^ "NASA Langley Aircraft Joins Operation IceBridge." NASA Langley Research Center.’’ Retrieved: 13 July 2014.
  14. ^ a b Taylor 1988, pp. 73–74.
  15. ^ Kaminski 2007, p.108.
  16. ^ Kaminski 2007, p. 109.
  17. ^ Kaminski 2007, p. 110.
  18. ^ Kaminski 2007, pp. 110–111.
  19. ^ Kaminski 2007, pp. 111–112.
  20. ^ Taylor 1980, p.65.
  21. ^ Taylor 1980, pp. 63-64.

External links

  • Dassault Falcon 20 (ELINT/ECM)
  • Used Falcons Archive
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