Over the following paragraphs we’ll consider key productivity parameters (including payload, range, speed and cabin size) and the current market for the Dassault Falcon 900LX and Embraer Legacy 650. How do they compare...?
Dassault Falcon 900LX
In 2007, Dassault announced the Falcon 900LX as an enhanced-performance version of the Falcon 900EX. Using three Honeywell TFE731-60 engines, the Falcon 900LX benefits from increased performance courtesy of its high-Mach blended winglets, designed by Aviation Partners.
Essentially, the winglets helped reduce net drag on the 900LX, resulting in a 5-7% reduction in fuel burn over the 900EX. Time to climb is also reduced as compared to the 900EX, and the 900LX features the improved EASy II digital cockpit with the Honeywell Primus Epic system.
As of this writing, since entering service there have been 74 Dassault Falcon 900LXs shipped to customers around the world. All 74 are wholly owned. North America is home to the largest Falcon 900LX fleet percentage (65%), followed by Europe (26%). Together, they account for a combined 91% of the world’s total Falcon 900LX fleet.
Embraer Legacy 650
Announced at the 2009 NBAA Convention, the Legacy 650 is a longer-range version of the Legacy 600. It entered operation in 2010 but was only certified by the US FAA in February 2011.
As of this writing, there are 97 Embraer Legacy 650 business jets in operation – and, again, all 97 are wholly-owned. Asia was home to the largest Embraer Legacy 650 fleet percentage (42%), followed by Europe (29%), and South America (15%) accounting for a combined 86% of the fleet.
Payload & Range Comparison
A potential operator should focus on payload capability as a key factor in selecting the right aircraft for their needs. Table A shows the Falcon 900LX’s ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ to be 1,545lbs., which is less than the 1,909lbs. offered by the Legacy 650.
TABLE A: Dassault Falcon 900LX vs Embraer Legacy 650 Payload & Range Comparison
Cabin Cross Section Comparison
Chart A shows a cabin cross-section comparison of the Falcon 900LX and Legacy 650 (courtesy of UPCAST JETBOOK and Conklin & de Decker). As depicted, the Dassault Falcon 900LX has more cabin height and width when compared to the Legacy 650.
However, the Legacy 650 has a much greater cabin length (49.8ft) compared to the Falcon 900LX (33.2ft) which results in more cabin volume (1,656cu.ft) compared to the Falcon 900LX (1,270cu.ft).
Also depicted by our graphic, Embraer’s Legacy 650 had a dropped aisle, whereas the Falcon 900LX achieves its maximum height with a flat floor cabin.
Not shown, the Falcon 900LX has 127cu.ft internal baggage space compared to the Legacy 650’s 286cu.ft.
CHART A: Dassault Falcon 900LX vs Embraer Legacy 650 Cabin Cross-Section Comparison
As depicted in Chart B using Teterboro, NJ as the origin point, the Dassault Falcon 900LX (4,695nm) shows more range coverage than the Embraer Legacy 650 (3,919nm) with four passengers.
For business jets, ‘Four Pax Range’ represents the maximum IFR range of the aircraft at long range cruise. NBAA IFR fuel reserve calculation is for a 200nm alternate. This range does not include winds aloft or any other weather-related obstacles.
CHART B: Dassault Falcon 900LX vs Embraer Legacy 650 Range Comparison
The Falcon 900LX is powered by three Honeywell TFE731-60 engines, each offering 5,000lbst. The Legacy 650 is powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce AE 3007A2 engines with 9,020lbst each.
Total Variable Cost Comparison
The ‘Total Variable Cost’ illustrated in Chart D (sourced from JETNET) is defined as the cost of fuel expense, maintenance labor expense, scheduled parts expense, and miscellaneous trip expense (hangar, crew and catering).
The total variable cost for the Falcon 900LX computes at $3,311/hour compared to the Legacy 650 at $3,436/hour.
CHART C: Dassault Falcon 900LX vs Embraer Legacy 650 Variable Cost Comparison
Aircraft Comparison Table
Table C contains the used prices (per Vref) for a 2017 model Falcon 900LX and 2017 model Legacy 650, while the long-range cruise speed, cabin volumes and ranges are from B&CA and Conklin & de Decker.The number of aircraft in-operation, percentage for sale, and average sold are as reported by JETNET.
The Falcon 900LX fleet had only 2.7% of its fleet for sale as of the end of July 2019, while the Legacy 650 had just 6.2% of its fleet for sale. The average number of new and used transactions (units sold) per month was one for the Falcon 900LX and less than one per month for the Legacy 650 over the previous 12 months.
TABLE B: Dassault Falcon 900LX vs Embraer Legacy 650 Aircraft Comparison Table
Maximum Scheduled Maintenance Equity
Chart D and E display the Dassault Falcon 900LX and Embraer Legacy 650 respectively. They depict (and project) the Maximum Maintenance Equity each jet has available based on its age.
- The Maximum Maintenance Equity figure was achieved the day an aircraft came off the production line (since it had not accumulated any utilization toward any maintenance events).
- The percent of the Maximum Maintenance Equity that an average aircraft will have available, based on its age, assumes:
- Average annual utilization of 475 flight hours (in the case of the Falcon 900LX) and 375 flight hours (in the case of the Legacy 650); and
- All maintenance is completed when due.
CHART D – Dassault Falcon 900LX Maximum Scheduled Maintenance Equity
CHART E – Embraer Legacy 650 Maximum Scheduled Maintenance Equity
Aircraft that are owned and operated by businesses are often depreciable for income tax purposes under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). Under MACRS, taxpayers can use accelerated depreciation of assets by taking a greater percentage of the deductions during the first few years of the applicable recovery period (see Table D).
In certain cases, aircraft may not qualify under the MACRS system and must be depreciated under the less favorable Alternative Depreciation System (ADS) where depreciation is based on a straight-line method, meaning that equal deductions are taken during each year of the applicable recovery period. In most cases, recovery periods under ADS are longer than recovery periods available under MACRS.
There are a variety of factors that taxpayers must consider in determining if an aircraft may be depreciated and, if so, the correct depreciation method and recovery period that should be utilized. For example, aircraft used in charter service (i.e. Part 135) are normally depreciated under MACRS over a seven-year recovery period, or under ADS using a twelve-year recovery period.
Aircraft used for qualified business purposes, such as Part 91 business use flights, are generally depreciated under MACRS over a period of five years or by using ADS with a six-year recovery period. There are certain uses of the aircraft, such as non-business flights, that may have an impact on the allowable depreciation deduction available in any given year.
The US enacted the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017. Under the new Act, taxpayers may be able to deduct up to 100% of the cost of a new or pre-owned aircraft purchased after September 27, 2017 and placed in service before January 1, 2023.
This 100% expensing provision is a huge bonus for aircraft owners and operators. After December 31, 2022 the Act decreases the percentage available each year by 20% to depreciate qualified business jets until December 31, 2026.
Table C depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2017-model Dassault Falcon 900LX in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods.
TABLE C: Dassault Falcon 900LX MACRS Depreciation Schedule
Table D depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2017-model Embraer Legacy 650 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods.
TABLE D: Embraer Legacy 650 MACRS Depreciation Schedule
Asking Prices & Quantity
As of this writing the used market for the Dassault Falcon 900LX shows a total of two jets for sale, both inviting interested parties to make an offer. For the Embraer Legacy 650, a total of six aircraft were listed for sale, one of which displayed an asking price of $15.5m. The other five invited offers.
While each serial number is unique, the Airframe Total Time (AFTT) and age/condition of an aircraft will cause great variation in the price of a specific aircraft – even between two aircraft from the same year of manufacture. The final negotiated price remains to be decided between the seller and buyer before the sale of an aircraft is completed.
The points in Chart F are centered on the same aircraft. Pricing used in the vertical axis is as published in the Vref Pricing Guide. 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:
- Four Passenger Range (nm) with available fuel;
- The long-range cruise speed flown to achieve that range;
- The gross cabin volume available for passengers and amenities.
Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed and cabin size.
Taking our 2017 model samples, the Falcon 900LX comes at a much higher price on the used market compared to a 2017-model Legacy 650.
In terms of productivity, the Embraer Legacy 650 edged out the Falcon 900LX in cabin volume (thanks to its longer cabin), and the ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ capacity.
Although the Legacy 650 shows a lower cost per nautical mile, ultimately the Falcon 900LX demonstrates a lower variable cost per hour, and offers more range than the Legacy 650, covering the distance with a higher long-range cruise speed.
CHART F: Dassault Falcon 900LX vs Embraer Legacy 650 Productivity Comparison
Within the preceding paragraphs we have touched upon several of the attributes that business jet operators value. There are other qualities such as airport performance, terminal area performance and time to climb that might factor in a buying decision.
Operators should weigh up their mission requirements precisely when picking which option is the best for them. Ultimately, there is plenty for a prospective buyer to weigh up when deciding which aircraft, and which performance criteria is better suited to them.