Significant cost and time savings achieved through the use of advanced digital design and production software on the Falcon 7X have persuaded Dassault that the development of new business jets smaller than the 5,700-nm 7X trijet might be economically more viable than the company had previously thought, although senior v-p of civil aircraft Olivier Villa declined to reveal what size of jet would likely be next in line for creation on company engineers’ Catia CAD/CAM screens. The French airframer assembled the first 7X in about half the time and at about half the tooling cost for a typical program of this size. (See Falcon 7X and Dassault financial results stories on page 30.)
“I believe we have made a big competitive step forward and this could be the key to a future new Falcon,” Villa said in Paris last month. He noted that Dassault Aviation chairman and chief executive Charles Edelstenne had instructed Falcon program leaders to commit fully to the process of digitization of design and production by investing heavily in the latest Catia and Dalmia software developed by sister company Dassault Systèmes. “He told us to spend more than we had to on new tools and processes,” Villa stated.
Dassault executives have unofficially talked of a possible “9X” project, but the company has not acknowledged any such program on the record.
At a September 16 press conference to announce interim financial results for the Dassault group, Edelstenne hailed the progress the company made with the “virtual plateau” approach to the Falcon 7X as “an industrial revolution” and said that Dassault is beginning to “reap the fruits” of its heavy investments. He also predicted that the company will sell between 55 and 60 Falcons this year–an increase of as much as 50 percent on the 40 aircraft sold last year.