Falcon owners seminar focuses on support

 - July 24, 2007, 8:43 AM

A record attendance of more than 1,100 Falcon business jet owners, operators and maintenance technicians at the 25th Worldwide Maintenance & Operations Seminar was “proof that the Falcon family is alive and well,” according to Dassault Falcon Jet president and CEO John Rosanvallon. His remarks were made at the seminar’s opening session on June 14.

Rosanvallon also offered as evidence the claim that Dassault Falcon Jet is now number one in its markets, “with a market share of approximately 40 percent.”

Occupying the front row at the seminar were most of the company’s top executives, including Dassault Aviation chairman Charles Edelstenne and honorary chairman Serge Dassault.

Edelstenne noted that to further improve product support for a fleet of some 1,500 Falcon business jets worldwide, the price of parts has been reduced and service has been improved. But while the trend toward improved support is positive, said Edelstenne, “We are not yet satisfied.” (See the results of AIN’s product support survey, beginning on page 18 of this issue.)

As to the business aviation industry in general and Dassault Falcon Jet’s position in particular, the chairman said, “The overall situation has improved; used [aircraft] inventory is down and new aircraft activity is up.” As a result, said Edelstenne, Dassault expects Falcon sales this year will be 20 percent more than last year.

Edelstenne also based sales expectations for the current year on positive market reaction to the new EASy cockpit in the Falcon 2000EX and 900EX, and “significant interest” in the new, 5,700-nm Falcon 7X, as well as the Falcon 900DX, scheduled to enter service “before the end of 2005.”

The chairman also noted that the introduction of new products is the most visible sign of the company’s investment in the future, though “it is not the most important.” He was referring to the unprecedented use of virtual-reality software (see story at right) in the design and engineering of the Falcon 7X. Lessons learned in this, he said, “Will revolutionize the industry…not immediately, but over the next several years.”

Taking the podium after being introduced by Edelstenne as “one of my most demanding customers,” Serge Dassault noted that he had just arrived “in my own Falcon 900EX.” As the owner and operator of a Falcon, Dassault described the seminar as “an opportunity to share the time and experience, and to discuss what can be done to make our product even better.”

Aware that North America is Dassault’s largest civil market, Serge Dassault reached out to an audience made up primarily of U.S. operators and maintenance technicians, recalling the long, if occasionally tempestuous, friendship between France and the U.S. “I will never forget the tens of thousands of American soldiers who came to France on D-Day to free France and Europe,” he told listeners.

Technical sessions at the seminar spanned a day-and-a-half and covered a variety of subjects, including solutions to recurring or new problems, upgrades being offered and new products.

2000EX EASy Initial Certification
Among the more notable announcements was initial certification by both the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and FAA of the Falcon 2000EX EASy cockpit upgrade.

The June approval is the first of three steps toward full certification and included most standard functions–TCAS, TAWS, the interactive electronic checklist, Cat 1 and autothrottle. It also included approval of a number of options, such as the third VDR (VHF data radio), third IRS, HGS Cat 1, Airshow and standalone satcom.

In the third quarter of next year, certification is expected for Selcal, as well as such options as a third FMS, AFIS and Jeppesen e-charts (depending on final certification for the charts).

The final certification step will include the “auto sense” function of the electronic checklist; secondary flight plan; HSI flight plan; vertical flight plan; wind-shear escape guidance from the flight director; and FMS speed management and dispatch through-status page (the ability of the installed avionics to tell the pilots directly whether or not they can depart with a faulty system). Final approval options will include HGS Cat III, MCS 7000 satcom integrated with EASy (cockpit voice/sat ATC), AFIS weather uplink, video interface for up to eight cameras on the multifunction display units and lightning sensor.

But the emphasis throughout the seminar was on operation and maintenance of the 10 Falcon types currently in service in some 65 countries worldwide. According to Gerry Goguen, senior v-p of customer service at Dassault Falcon Jet headquarters in Little Ferry, N.J., there are 910 operators of Falcon business jets, and to support them Dassault now has 47 field-service representatives in 21 offices in five countries. He noted improvements to the private portal Internet access for operators, growing numbers of technical publications now available via the Internet and a renewed emphasis by the Falcon maintenance network on “observing, evaluating and improving efficiency.”

According to Claude Frey, senior v-p of customer service for Dassault Aviation, Dassault Falcon Jet has also made considerable improvements in parts availability. In April 2002, parts were available in stock and shipped per the customer’s request 93.5 percent of the time. In April this year, that parts availability number was 98.1 percent. “Our goal,” said Frey, “is 100 percent.” He also noted that Dassault now has $350 million in slow- and fast-moving parts in stock in Europe and the U.S. to support all Falcon models.

The worldwide M&O seminar is held every other year and no date or location has been selected for the 2006 event. A smaller-scale Falcon M&O seminar will be held on October 13 in conjunction with the NBAA Convention in Las Vegas (time and location to be announced).