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AIRCRAFT COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS - FALCON 50EX

In this month’s Aircraft Comparative Analysis, we provide information on a selection of new and pre-owned business jets in the $20-$21m range for the purpose of valuing the pre-owned Dassault Falcon 50EX. We’ll consider the usual productivity parameters - payload/range, speed and cabin size - and cover current and future market values. The field in this study compares the Dassault Falcon 50EX with ...

Mike Chase   |   17th March 2008
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Mike Chase Mike Chase

Mike Chase has thirty-five year's extensive global managerial experience in marketing,...
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In this month’s Aircraft Comparative Analysis, we provide information on a selection of new and pre-owned business jets in the $20-$21m range for the purpose of valuing the pre-owned Dassault Falcon 50EX for sale.

We’ll consider the usual productivity parameters - payload/range, speed and cabin size, and cover current and future market values. The field in this study compares the Dassault Falcon 50EX with the Hawker Beechcraft Hawker 4000, the Embraer Legacy Shuttle (EMB-135LR), and the Cessna Citation X for sale. In this comparison of the same relative prices, we will see how the Falcon 50EX fairs against the world’s fastest aircraft (Citation X), a much larger cabin (Legacy Shuttle), and a new all-composite (Hawker 4000) aircraft.

Brief History

Dassault’s Falcon 50EX made its first flight in 1996 and is a follow-on to the Falcon 50, which was first certified in February (France), and March (US) of 1979. The Falcon 50 is a French-built super mid-size, long-range business jet with three jet engines.

The Falcon 50EX has improved engines compared to the Falcon 50 along with other improvements that enable the popular business jet more range. There have been 352 Falcon 50, 50-40 (engine upgrade), and 50EX aircraft delivered since 1979. Just recently, Dassault and Aviation Partners announced that winglets are being developed for the Falcon 50 as a retrofit kit that will further add to its performance.

PAYLOAD AND RANGE

The data contained in Table A is published in the B&CA, May 2008 issue, but is also sourced from Conklin & de Decker. As we mentioned in past articles, a potential operator should focus on payload capability. The Falcon 50EX’s “Available payload with Maximum Fuel” at 2,130 pounds is greater than the Hawker 4000 and the Citation X. However, the Embraer Legacy Shuttle has much greater available payload at 7,162 pounds but falls far short in the maximum payload range compared to the list.

CABIN VOLUME

According to Conklin & de Decker, the cabin volume of the Falcon 50EX, at 700 cubic feet is greater than the Citation X, the world’s fastest business jet. However, the Embraer Legacy has double the cabin volume of the Falcon 50EX as shown in Chart A, while the Hawker 4000.

Powerplant details

As mentioned previously, the Falcon 50EX aircraft has three Honeywell TFE731-40 engines each offering 3,700 pounds of thrust (total = 11,100 lbs). The Hawker 4000 has two P&WC PW308A engines with slightly greater overall thrust at 6,900 pounds each (13,800 lbs). By comparison, both the Legacy Shuttle and the Citation X are powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce AE 3007 engines - each offering substantially more thrust at 7,057 pounds (or 14,108 lbs) and 6,764 pounds (13,528 lbs) respectively.

Using data published in the May 2008 B&CA Planning and Purchasing Handbook and the August 2008 B&CA Operations Planning Guide we will compare our aircraft. Jet A fuel cost used from our source publications was $6.57 per gallon at press time for the August 2008 edition, so for the sake of comparison we’ll chart the numbers as published.

Note: The fuel price used from this source does not represent an average fuel price for the year and during August 2008 there was a rather high fuel price bubble which has come down significantly.

Cost Per Mile Comparisons

Chart B, which details “Cost per Mile”, compares the Falcon 50EX to its competition, factoring direct costs and with all aircraft flying a 1,000nm mission with an 800 pound (four passengers) payload. The Falcon 50EX shows the cost per mile comparisons at $7.08 and the most expensive aircraft to operate per mile compared to the list. The Hawker 4000 offers the lowest cost per mile of the aircraft listed in this comparison at $5.32 p/nm.

Total Variable Cost Comparisons

The “Total Variable Cost” illustrated in Chart C is defined as the cost of Fuel Expense, Maintenance Labor Expense, Scheduled Parts Expense, and Miscellaneous trip expense. The total variable cost for the Falcon 50EX at $3,010 per hour is the most expensive to operate in the comparison list. The Hawker 4000 has the lowest variable cost per hour of the competitive aircraft listed.

Productivity Comparisons

The points in Chart D center on the same group of aircraft. Pricing used in the vertical axis is as published in the B&CA 2008 Purchase Planning Handbook and Vref. The productivity index requires further discussion in that the factors used can be somewhat arbitrary.

Productivity can be defined (and it is here) as the multiple of three factors.

1. Range with full payload and available fuel;

2. The long range cruise speed flown to achieve that range;

3. The cabin volume available for passengers and amenities.

The result is a very large number so for the purpose of charting, each result is divided by one billion. The examples plotted are confined to the aircraft in this study. A computed curve fit on this plot would not be very tight, but when all business jet aircraft are considered the “r” squared factor would equal a number above 0.9. Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with Price, Range, Speed and Cabin Size.

After consideration of the Price, Range, Speed and Cabin Size, we can conclude that the Falcon 50EX as shown on the productivity index Chart D is reasonably competitive with the other aircraft shown. Worth particular note is that two new 2000-era aircraft - the Embraer Legacy Shuttle and the Hawker 4000 - have been included on the Chart, and register productive index points greater than the Falcon 50EX that was manufactured in the late 1970’s.

The Falcon 50EX, which was in-operation almost 20 years ahead of the Citation X – the fastest corporate jet in the world, shows a better productivity value. Also, we have included the Falcon 50 on the index to show the improvements in the Falcon 50EX.

Table B contains the relative retail prices from B&CA Magazine and from Vref for each aircraft. The number of aircraft in-operation, percentage “For Sale” and the number “Sold” over the past 12 months are from JETNET. As shown in the table, the Falcon 50EX has a high percentage of the existing fleet “For Sale” at 14.9% (buyer’s market).

Aircraft Ownership Duration/Location

The ‘Average Length of Ownership’ for the pre-owned Falcon 50EX stands at 1.7 years, and for all Falcon jets the number is 3.0 years. The average length of ownership for all business jets is 2.6 years. 82% of the Falcon 50EX fleet is based in the United States, as recorded by JETNET in its STAR reporting system. This data can be valuable information for dealer/broker repeat business to anticipate frequency of aircraft ownership changes and where the majority are located by continent.

Table D is compiled from information provided by the JETNET STAR reporting system, and shows the ‘Upgrade To’ path of an owner who started with a Falcon 50EX aircraft. From this, we can see what aircraft a Falcon 50EX owner would most likely buy next.

Out the total of 61 upgrades found, the top four out of five aircraft progressed to were Falcon aircraft models, with the Gulfstream GV being the only exception. The STAR Report also offers details of ‘Upgrade From’ paths that Falcon 50EX owners took before moving up to their Falcon 50EXs.

Summary

Within the preceding paragraphs we have touched upon several of the attributes that business aircraft operators value. There are other qualities such as airport performance, terminal area performance, and time to climb performance that might factor in a buying decision, too.

The following summary in Table E shows the Falcon 50EX sales activity trends from 1999 to 2008 which should provide some perspective to the current high levels for sale on a monthly basis (more than three times historic numbers at an average 10 for sale per month during 2008). These are selling at lower prices but are taking less time to sell on average compared to the past three or four years. However, the Falcon 50EX aircraft continues to be very popular in the pre-owned market today with 11 selling in 2008 - the highest number since 12 sold in 2003.

Overall, the Dassault Falcon 50EX for sale well against its competition, so those operators in the market should find the preceding comparison of value. Our expectations are that the Falcon 50/50EX aircraft, which started delivering in 1979 and 1996, will continue to do very well in the pre-owned market.


Read more about: Dassault Falcon 50EX | Hawker Beechcraft 400

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