AIN has learned that Dassault has reduced the size of the Falcon 7X-dedicated facility extension the company plans to build at its Bordeaux-Mérignac plant. In September, Dassault announced plans for an 18-position assembly hall. The plant was to be built in two phases for a total area of 290,000 sq ft (excluding offices).
Some company officials previously told AIN that no change had been made to these plans. However, according to Gérald Maria, a senior executive at the plant, the facility will be 237,000 sq ft (excluding offices) and the construction will take place in a single phase. This will make a 14-position facility. Completion is pegged for July next year.
This reduction in the size of the facility has nothing to do with Dassault’s hopes in terms of sales, according to Maria. “We will shorten manufacturing cycles to keep the production rate we have planned,” he said. The reason for the downsizing is that “we had to keep the cost of the facility extension in our budget envelope,” he added.
In other news at the company, Dassault and China’s Chengdu Aircraft have signed an industrial cooperation agreement on the Falcon 2000EX. Under the contract (announced March 19) CAC will manufacture the central part of the fuselage. The lower section of this structural element has been made slightly wider on the EX variant of the Falcon 2000 to accommodate more fuel. Dassault said that Catia, the CAD/CAM software developed by Dassault Systems, was instrumental in making this cooperation possible.
According to a Dassault spokesman in France, the agreement is a major step toward opening the Chinese market to Falcons. During the 1990s a major fighter-aircraft sale to Taiwan had severely damaged the relationship between the French aviation industry and China. Now the French aircraft manufacturer will “be able to start the certification process with Chinese aviation authorities.” Dassault expects “an important market for Falcon in China.” U.S.-based subsidiary Dassault Falcon Jet is in charge of marketing Falcons in China.