Text: Serge Van Heertum - Translation: David Niemegeerts  © sbap 2016
Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Eric Denis, Bart Rosselle, Denis Vanderidt, Johny De Visch, Dassault Aviation, Vincent Pécriaux,
Coll Serge Van Heertum, Coll Eric Denis, Coll Jean Dries, 15th Wing
 

The Falcon roll out at Merignac did the buzz in the aeronautical press
  (Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)

History
It was in 1954 that the design office of Mérignac imagined a first project for a business jet, under the name of "Mediterranean". Due to the lack of adapted motorization it is finally in 1961 that they really started the study based on a design with reactors in lateral rear pods, using the Pratt & Whitney JT12 reactors, which were already used at the time by the Sabreliner and Lockheed JetStar. This program, led by René Lemaire, is first called "Mystery 100" and then finally the "Mystery 20".
Pan American World Airways quickly became very interested, and a few hours before the first flight on 4 May 1963 by René Bigand, a delegation including Charles Lindbergh as technical advisor went to Merignac to see the prototype. Positively impressed, the legend reports that Charles Lindbergh telegraphed the same day to the director of Pan Am: "I've found our bird". However, Dassault was asked to adapt the General Electric CF700 dual-flow reactors. The prototype flew on July 10, 1964 with this engine instead of the 2 Pratt & Whitney JT12-A8. Very soon, Pan Am ordered 40 aircraft and announced a project to acquire 200 aircraft for first delivery in 1965. The plane was therefore "Americanized" and named "Fan Jet Falcon". Certificates of airworthiness were issued in June 1965. The name Falcon would remain permanently attached to the series.

In 1971, Frederick W. Smith, a young American entrepreneur, imagined the concept of rapid air freight transport by night. He finally chose the Falcon 20, and orders 33 copies. Federal Express Corporation was born and operated the Falcon successfully during 10 years. It was not until 1982 that they replaced them with Boeing 727 and Douglas DC10.
Another US success of the Falcon 20 was the sale of 41 aircraft equipped with American reactors to the United States Coast Guard, under the designation HU-25 Guardian in 1977. Having entered service between February 1982 and December 1983, they were withdrawn on September 23 2014. Five of them were transferred, and continue to fly under the colors of NASA and the USAF.
In 1989, Dassault unveiled the Falcon 20-5; A version with modernized avionics, and the powerplant was replaced by two Garrett TFE-731 BR reactors, delivering 21.1 kN each.
Several extrapolated versions were studied, notably the Falcon 30 and 40. Only a re-motorized version, dubbed Falcon 200, was actually produced. A total of 477 Falcon 20s were built by Dassault Aviation between 1965 and 1988.

 
The prototype in flight, this one is now preserved at Le Bourget
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
The first and biggest customer was Pan Am
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
The second American large customer was Federal Express
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
The Falcon Guardian prototype on drag chute test
(Courtesy Dassault Aviation)
   
    
Belgian Air Force service
 

In June 1972 the Belgian government decided to purchase two Falcon 20s for VIP transport. It was financially made possible after the purchase of the 12 C-130H from Lockheed, which the Belgian State paid cheaper than expected, thanks to a depreciation of the dollar at that time. The contract for the purchase of the two Falco 20Es was signed in September 1972, and a few months later, the CM-01 touched its wheels down at the Melsbroek military base on 23 March 1973, followed by CM-02 18 May 1973.
Integrated within the 21st Squadron (Sioux Rouge) the plane made a discrete career with a single notable incident on January 12, 1996 when the CM-01 was forced to make a belly landing at Gosselies.

Following the presentation by Dassault of its modernized version (Falcon 20-5), Belgium opted for the modernization of its Falcon fleet. Thus, in May 2004, the two planes were deposited at the airport of Le Bourget to undergo the "retrofit" which lasted until February 2005.
This modernization included notable changes in avionics, cabin upgrades and, of course, remodeling with Allied Signal (Garrett) TFE-731-5BR reactors that was consuming significantly less than the former General Electric CF700 2D, origin.
On the avionics side, the new integrated elements were: Collins Pro Line 4 screens including a 4-channel EFIS, dual VHF 20 radio, Dual VIR 30, APS 30 autopilot, dual ADF 60, Dual DME 40, a Global GNS-X FMS and a Sperry Primus 400 as a color weather radar.

With this in-depth modernization, the new Falcon 20E-5 offered the Belgian Air Force a completely modernized aircraft, keeping up with time. In addition, the CM-02 allowed itself to beat a record at the hands of the then chief pilot, Eric Denis.
This record was established when converting a crew to transatlantic flights (which was now possible with the Falcon 20E). The outbound flight was made on February 15 with destination Goose Bay in Canada, making a fuel stop in Reykjavik. It was on the return flight that the record was established when the Falcon 20E made the Goose Bay - Melsbroek (Brussels) link in one stroke, some 4284 kilometers. From Canada, the crew flew over the Ocean at Flight Level 360 at a constant speed of Mach 0.74. It was only by approaching England that the crew climbed to flight level 390 and pushed the speed to Mach 0.82 and then dropped to its destination. After 5 hours 30 minutes of flight, the aircraft lands with a reserve of fuel still above the minimum authorized limit. Thanks to this "retrofit", the Falcon 20E had acquired the "Long Courier" capacity enabling flights to Africa, the main continent traveled by the crews of the 15th Transport Wing.
Unfortunately, the general economic situation in Belgium pushed the government to pull the plug for the small business jet, even though it still had some good years ahead of it thanks to this modernization. Thus, as we previously announced, the CM-01 will carry out its last flight on December 29, 2014 (see SBAP: Falcon Half Fleet).

To mark the end of the Falcon 20, and the turning of this page in the history of the Air Force, a friendly ceremony, gathering the "anciens" of the Falcon, was organized at Melsbroek on December 9th, which made it possible to close the history of the small twin-reactor, and to bid him farewell after so many good and loyal services in the 15th Wing and the 21st Squadron.

The real last flight of the Falcon 20E-5 of the Belgian Air Force was planned the week before Christmas. The flight of the CM-02 went through on December 22nd without any great sumptuousness. Indeed, despite a preparation to this event within the 15th Wing, things were taken over by the general staff at Brussels and this last flight went on without big drums nor trumpets even for the last crew, of which one did the very last flight of his career and the other leaving for Avord air base for a conversion course. A page in the history of the Belgian Air Force and the 15th Transport Wing was turned after 43 years of dedicated service and all this without any wingspread behalves the one of the Falcon. The Falcon crews and the 21st Squadron will surely miss the little, but prestigious Falcon 20.

What will become of the CM-01 and CM-02 ? Most probably will they be put up for sale, but one has to know that the CM-01 needs a maintenance and overhaul, maybe even the replacement of the landing gear, whereas the CM-02 is ready to have a "C" check.
The future will tell us whether the good old, but most of all elegant Falcon 20 will be seen again cleaving the blue skies ... Wait and see ...

So long little Falcon, we will miss you...

 
 The first note about the usage of the Falcon 20 aircraft was edited on March 22, 1973 (Coll Jean Dries)
 
The beginning
 
 Eagerly awaiting arrival of the CM-01
(Coll Jean Dries)
The hedge of honor at arrival
(Coll Jean Dries)
The first VIP passenger... 
(Coll Jean Dries)
...Mister Paul Vanden Boeynants Minister of Defence in 1973 
hosted by the Gen André Debêche Belgian Air Force Chief of Staff and Lt Col Michel "Mike" Terlinden Base Commander of the 15th Wing
 (Coll Jean Dries)
The early years at Belgian Air Force. CM-01 (F-WNGL test registration) c/n 276
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
Same for the CM-02 (F-WNGM test registration) c/n  278
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
The pilot office in 1973
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
On the line with one of the last Belgian Fairchild C-119G Flying Boxcar
(Coll Jean Dries)
A real elegant aircraft
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
Again a splendid Dassault design
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
 
Paint Scheme
 
The first paint scheme with the belgian flag on the rudder 
and the deep blue sheetline
(© Serge Van Heertum)
1973 version
(© Denis Vanderidt)
Note the 1946 - 1996 anniversary logo near the door (1991 scheme)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
The second scheme with light blue, small flag and the Royal Arms (as from 1991)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
The third scheme after the retrofit with deep blue (as from 2005)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
Deep blue, Belgian defence text and logo (as from 2006)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
15 wing 60th anniversary logo on the top of the fin (2008)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
The fourth scheme with the deep blue tail and Belgian Defence logo (as from 2010)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
The CM code enlarged and the 40 years Falcon logo on the engine (2013)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
Last version with the large CM code, the Royal Arms and 
the Air Force logo (as from 2013)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 
The 40 years Falcon in 2013
(© Serge Van Heertum)
2014-18 logo in memory of the Great War
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 
Incident
 
A belly landing at Gosselies on January 12th, 1996 for the CM-01
This was the only major incident of the Falcon 20 fleet
 (Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
Recovery team is looking the plane for transportation
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
The crane in action
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
Loaded on a truck to get back the home base for reparations
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
 
The Falcon 20E-5 version
 
The F-WQBN (test registration) alias CM-02 ready for the test flight after the retrofit program   (© Eric Denis)
The CM-02 ferried to Le Bourget airport
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis)
Works started
(© Eric Denis)
Working plan
(© Eric Denis)
Works on the engine beam
(© Eric Denis)
Kilometers of wires
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis) (© Eric Denis)
Falcon 20-5 Flight Simulator...
(© Eric Denis)
CM01 & CM02 will get the same cockpit design
(© Eric Denis)
The new pedestal struture
(© Eric Denis)
And the one of the dashboard
(© Eric Denis)
The new instruments are waiting for the placement
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis)
The cabin is also totaly renewed
(© Eric Denis)
The CM02 in the work facilities
(© Eric Denis)
Bare metal
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis)
Tail modifications
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis)
The new engine beam
(© Eric Denis)
Working on the gear
(© Eric Denis)
The modified electronic in the nose
(© Eric Denis)
Waiting the placement of the new weather radar
(© Eric Denis)
Hell...no more cockpit
(© Eric Denis)
Works going on in the cabin
(© Eric Denis)
Revised piping
(© Eric Denis)
Detail of engine attachment
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis) Flaps in awaiting
(© Eric Denis)
The new TFE-731-5BR turbofan
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis) The plan of the cockpit instrumentation
(© Eric Denis)
 New engine installed
(© Eric Denis)
The new engine will give a power of 4,750 lbs
(© Eric Denis)
Slats mounting
(© Eric Denis)
Main landing gear
(© Eric Denis)
The cabin lining
(© Eric Denis)
Some detail view of the structural modifications
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis) Wire...wire...wire
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis) Pilot office is coming good
(© Eric Denis)
The CM02 got is new paint scheme
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis) Sperry Primus 400 color weather radar eletronic box
(© Eric Denis)
The cockpit is completed
(© Eric Denis)
The brother of arms, the CM01 takes the same way
(© Eric Denis)
Test flight registration
(© Eric Denis)
Belgian Defence iso Belgian Air Force
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis) (© Eric Denis)
Aircraft is ready for the test flight...
(© Eric Denis)
...the first flight after retrofit was on September 16th, 2004
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis) The test crew
(Coll Eric Denis)
The new cockpit and dashboard  (© Eric Denis)
Overhead panel
(© Eric Denis)
Pedestal
(© Eric Denis)
Left console
(© Eric Denis)
Right console
(© Eric Denis)
The new cabin design
(© Eric Denis)
Oxygen mask tested
(© Eric Denis)
The first hours cabin seats
(© Eric Denis)
CM01 acceptance flight on Febrary 18th, 2005
(Coll Eric Denis)
 
An amazing flight...
 
(© Eric Denis)
Arrival at Goose Bay on February 15th, 2005
(© Eric Denis)
The CM02 will make a night stop
(© Eric Denis)
The plane is taken out of the night rest
(© Eric Denis)
Heavy snow in the region
(© Eric Denis)
The record crew   (Coll Eric Denis)
Simply some nice view of the one stretch flight
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis) (© Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis) (© Eric Denis)
 
Falcon 20E-5 formations
 
(Coll Eric Denis)
Both Falcon's toegether for training purposes
(© Eric Denis)
Eric Denis was Falcon chief pilot, responsible for retrofit follow up 
and crew formation
(Coll Eric Denis)
(© Eric Denis) (© Eric Denis)
Eric Denis last flight on September 28th, 2005  (Coll Eric Denis)
 
Not alone in the sky...
 
Both CM01 and CM02 with Alpha Jet AT24 and AT 26 (demo)     (Coll Eric Denis)
The Belgian Air Force Falcon fleet all toegether
(Col Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
The Falcon 20-5, the Falcon 900B and the Embraer ERJ-135
(© Bart Rosselle)
Hight level with Alpha Jet's...
(©Coll Eric Denis)
...and with Lockheed-Martin F-16AM
(Coll Eric Denis)
 
Last days...December 9th...the party...
 
 
(© Serge Van Heertum)
The CM-01 gleaming for his last party
(© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) And the glowing CM-02
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
  (© Serge Van Heertum)  (© Serge Van Heertum)
 A last visit on boad...the cockpit...
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
...and the cabin
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
 The party with old crew and technicians...
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
...who took care of the Falcon 20 during 43 years
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) Colonel Avi er Raymond Baccaert was the pilot who made the Falcon 20 evaluation
in the early 1970's. He was also the pilot of King Baudouin 
and totalize 15500 flight hours in the Air Force. Was really nice to meet him! 

(© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Johny De Visch) Eric Denis is tagging the CM-01...
(© Johny De Visch)
Other signature...Farewell Falcon
(© Johny De Visch)
Appreciated aircraft, no more comments are needed
(© Johny De Visch)
A last family picture with the Falcon (© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
  
December 22nd...the last flight...
 
Preparation of the last Facon 20 flight
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
The flight plan
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
The end of history crew...
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
On taxi for the last flight
(© Vincent Pécriaux)
Salute of a brother
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
Holding point 25R
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
The CM-02 for his last take off
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
A last pass above the 21st Squadron and the 15th Wing
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
Still elegant...isn't it?
(© Vincent Pécriaux)
Showing proudly the national coulours
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
Short final with Steenokkerzeel church
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
Final touch...
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
Arrival with the firebrigate tribute
(© Vincent Pécriaux)
Wet..Wet...
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
...and Wet !
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
The last crew and the last flight of one of the pilot
(© 15th Wing via Johny De Visch)
   
The end...without fireworks
 
A 43 years and discrete career...
(Coll Eric Denis)
...Good show little Falcon and so long
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 

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