Dassault offers extensive support for worldwide Falcon fleet

 - May 16, 2011, 9:50 PM

Dassault entered the world corporate jet market in 1963 with the launch of the highly successful Falcon 20 midsize twin. The OEM’s current lineup includes the widebody series 900, 2000 and 7X, and a new super-midsize jet announced for 2016. Today, the French manufacturer supports a fleet of some 1,900 corporate and special-mission jets on four continents. This year, Dassault organized 13 regional seminars for its operators in eight countries around the world. AIN attended the European 2011 seminar in Geneva in early April.

All of the regional one-day seminars are composed of a morning presentation, followed in the afternoon by roundtable meetings where operators can discuss specific problems of their aircraft with manufacturer’s representatives. Supporting a diversified fleet of almost 2,000 aircraft in today’s world of increasingly dense regulations is not an easy task, but Dassault conveys a clear message to the operators of its jets built since the sixties: all will be supported, for many years to come, anywhere in the world.

As a consequence of that philosophy, Dassault is expanding its support and training network into areas beyond Europe and North America, where most Falcons are traditionally based. For general customer service, Dassault quoted as focus points for 2011 implementation of operator advisory board recommendations, improved dispatch reliability and fast response to aircraft-on-ground (AOG) situations. The French manufacturer has set up a 20-member advisory board, which proved very useful for systematic feedback from customers. In addition to operators from the U.S. and Europe, the board includes members from Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and India.

The mainstay of Dassault’s support organization are five factory-owned service centers–one in Paris, three in the U.S. and one in São Paulo, plus a worldwide network of factory-approved contractor service centers.

The manufacturer also maintains three field service tech centers in Paris and the U.S., which in turn support locally based field technical reps and customer service managers at 17 locations in the U.S., three in Europe and one each in Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India, Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing. All are available 24 hours, seven days a week.

For AOG situations, the network can be reached over just two phone numbers worldwide, one in Europe and one in the U.S. This is complemented by a worldwide net of spare stock centers in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Two additional spare parts locations are planned in Moscow and Beijing. These facilities also have specialized tooling available to maintenance shops. Overall, Dassault now maintains $700 million worth of spares in these facilities. In case of an AOG situation, parts are ready for shipment within two hours after the initial contact. 

AOG Solutions

Customer support is to be further strengthened by a series of innovations announced at the seminar. They include the Falcon Link and the Falcon Broadcast, which are designed to speed up resolution of AOG situations by simplifying failure diagnostics and anticipate shipment of spares as needed.

Falcon Link replaces phone calls by audio/video conference links via laptops and email with the customer home base, the Dassault customer support network, independent service centers, spare depots and others as required.

Falcon Broadcast is a similar scheme but is optimized for EASy avionics of the Falcon 7X, 900 and 2000 series. This system is also designed to work from aircraft in flight.

Falcon Link will become available within the second half of 2011 for newly delivered aircraft and in early 2012 for in-service aircraft. Falcon Broadcast will be field-tested until the third quarter of 2011 and become available during the fourth quarter.

Flight Data Monitoring is a new service offered by Dassault for all Falcon operators in partnership with CAE Flightscape and Ruag Aviation. It provides systematic analysis of flight data and proposes remedies in case of unexplained events, such as unstable approaches or erratic attitudes. Results of analysis are made available to other Dassault operators and the system can also establish statistics to monitor fleet-wide frequency of events. FDM is widely used by airlines but new for business aviation. Yearly subscriptions to Falcon operators will be offered at around $5,000 starting in the second quarter of this year.

Practical Training

Information on pilot and maintenance training possibilities is also part of the seminars. Innovations in pilot training include three additional flight simulators­–one 7X simulator at Flight Safety International in Dallas, Texas, and one at CAE Dubai, plus a convertible F900, F2000EX EASy simulator, also at CAE Dubai.

As for maintenance training, Dassault has obtained certification from the French DGAC to extend to the Falcon 900 and 2000 series its practical training scheme set up for the Falcon 7X in 2007. The 10-day training cycle puts trainees in realistic working conditions at Dassault’s assembly plants in Mérignac or Istres.

Dassault experts and technicians guide the trainees to perform real-life maintenance tasks on green aircraft. To complement to their theoretical training, participants are prepared to carry out work in the field after completion of the practical training.

In early April, more than 220 technicians from Dassault authorized service centers and owner-operators had completed the training program in France. The manufacturer is now seeking EASA Part 147 approval for the training scheme and plans to duplicate the program at its U.S. facility in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2012.   

Ready for New Regs

Dassault is committed to implementing all upcoming rule and regulation changes for the entire fleet of Falcons, including older models. Upcoming changes include EASA implementing rules, controller pilot data link communication (CPDLC) to become mandatory for all aircraft flying over FL 285 in European airspace in early 2015; ADS-B; and the improved collision-avoidance system TCAS 7.1 to become mandatory in Europe in March 2014. The manufacturer will also seek operational certification for its paperless electronic flight bag for all aircraft equipped with the EASy flight deck by the end of this year.

Falcon 7X, 900, 2000, 50 and 10 series aircraft registered in EASA countries are certified for the steep-approach into London City Airport. The 7X is also FAA-approved for London City, and Dassault hopes to obtain FAA clearance for the 900LX and EX series this year. N-registered F2000 EX and LX are expected to receive London City clearance sometime next year.

Support of Dassault’s narrowbody fleet, which totals 1,092 aircraft delivered between 1963 and 2008–864 of which are still in service–requires upgrades to cope with new rules, maintenance and training, as well as readily available spares, just as the more recent widebody fleet.

While the operators of these older jets tend to be less affluent than owners of newer aircraft, a look at the original Falcon 20 fleet shows that the majority of the 303 aircraft still flying have not reached the original life limit of 20,000 landings or 30,000 hours total flight time. Dassault and the certification authorities have extended that limitation to 40,000 landings or 60,000 hours, providing these midsize twins with a service life of at least another 15 years.

In addition to the airframe manufacturer, main vendors are also committed to keep the Falcon 20s going, including General Electric, supplier of the original CF700 turbofan. A considerable number of F20s have been re-engined with more recent Garrett/Honeywell TFE731-5 turbofans, taking the designation of Falcon 20-5.

In addition to useful operator information, the Dassault seminars offer an impressive insight into the complexities involved in keeping a diversified fleet in the air.