Dassault plays 7X completion catchup

 - December 28, 2007, 4:49 AM

Even with a new hangar dedicated to cabin outfitting of its Falcon 7X, French aircraft manufacturer Dassault is not meeting scheduled delivery dates for the new flagship trijet.

“The ramp-up has been a little slower than expected,” Dassault Falcon president John Rosanvallon told AIN.

Rosanvallon said the reason was an underestimated degree of cabin customization that resulted in an unusual number of different cabin configurations and a higher-than-expected demand for new parts and new engineering design work.
The Falcon 7X, the company’s largest business jet to date, with fly-by-wire controls and a max range of 5,950 nm, was certified in April 2007. The company delivered its first finished Falcon 7X late last June and expected to deliver seven aircraft by the end of last year, about half the number originally projected for 2007.

According to Rosanvallon, “We are talking with all customers whose aircraft are affected by the delays [and] we are working hard to catch up.” He said the current ramp-up effort will bring the interior outfitting to “our cruise rate” of 40 airplanes a year by the end of next year. As of late last year, the order book for the Falcon 7X was approaching 200 aircraft, and more than 60 were in various stages of production and completion. The next available delivery position for a 7X is in early 2013.

The 7X is assembled at the company’s facilities in Bordeaux, France, and flown green to Dassault’s Little Rock completion center for cabin outfitting. Rosanvallon said there are no plans to move any of the 7X completion work outside the Little Rock center. (See box.)
The Dassault facility in Wilmington, Del., continues to do subcontract Falcon 2000EX cabin completion installation for fractional operator NetJets, and Jet Aviation in Switzerland continues to do Falcon 2000 and Falcon 900 interiors. The Wilmington center expects to deliver 12 Falcon 2000EXs this year, and Jet Aviation is ramping up to outfit 20 airplanes a year.

Rosanvallon also noted that while Falcon 7X deliveries have fallen behind, deliveries of completed Falcon 2000s and Falcon 900s remain on schedule.  

Dassault Might Relocate Production

The growing dollar/euro exchange-rate imbalance might lead major European companies such as Dassault to move some production to low-cost economies and those that use the U.S. dollar. French daily newspaper Le Monde on December 3 quoted Dassault chairman Charles Edelstenne as saying, “We are taking steps to adapt our company to the new situation created by the latest fall in the dollar and will give our workforce details in January.” Dassault communications confirmed this statement to AIN on December 19.

According to Edelstenne, the dollar’s value against the euro has depreciated by 30 percent over the last two years. As a result, Dassault faces dwindling profit margins because most of its costs are in euros, while most of its income is in dollars.