NBAA Convention News

Dassault factory service center readies for 7X

 - September 20, 2007, 10:45 AM

Dassault Falcon Service (Booth No. 1357) has spent much of this year preparing to provide support for the new Falcon 7X. The factory-owned service center at Paris Le Bourget Airport has already made a significant investment in training and tooling, and is expanding its facilities to accommodate the French airframer’s largest model.
Around 15 of the three-engine jets are due to be delivered by the end of the year. Dassault is also preparing to ramp up annual production to a rate of 35 to 40 aircraft.

This month the company started building a 46,000-sq-ft hangar that will accommodate up to four 7Xs simultaneously. This new structure should be ready next summer. In May, Dassault Falcon Service had to widen the doors of its existing ramp service hangar to fit the 7X’s 86-foot wingspan. This building, which is used for troubleshooting repairs, can also house two Falcon 900s alongside a 7X.

The 7X should require less maintenance than previous Falcons, with time between overhauls having been extended by as much as 50 percent. Nonetheless, explained Dassault Falcon Service president Yves Gueyffier, the aircraft presents quite a challenge for the manufacturer’s product support operation due to all the high technology in the design. The maintenance protocols for the 7X were approved by both the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency in April.

The A-check for the 7X will occur every 600 flight hours or nine months, whichever comes first. Previously, this would have been 300 flight hours or six months. The B-check interval has been extended to 2,400 flight hours from 1,500. The C-check is every eight years or 4,000 flight cycles–up from six years or 3,750 flight cycles.
Dassault’s integrated maintenance concept has played a big role in extending support intervals. For example, more on-condition maintenance is possible because mechanics have access to more comprehensive aircraft performance information through the centralized fault-history database.

The manufacturer’s MSG3 (maintenance steering group standard 3) working groups thoroughly analyzed each piece of equipment on the digitally designed aircraft. This safety analysis led to TBOs being set more realistically to take account of the likelihood of a catastrophic failure.

The 7X’s high-level of system integration, including its fly-by-wire controls, has also contributed to easier maintenance. Some of the job cards for an A-check, for example, require no more than a simple check on the centralized maintenance computer.

Meanwhile, Dassault has positioned more than $100 million worth of 7X spares throughout its support centers in Le Bourget; Teterboro, N.J.; Singapore; Brazil and China. Its goal is to achieve a 98-percent service level for spare parts availability.
According to Gueyffier, Dassault Falcon Service’s maintenance business is now in high gear. Reorganization of workload planning over the past two years has allowed the company to increase efficiency and capacity in response to rising demand.

Some of this demand comes from the company’s charter fleet, which was renewed last year to consist of three Falcon 900s, two Falcon 2000s, a Falcon 50 and a Falcon 20-5. Apart from the latter aircraft, which is exclusively for Dassault use, the other jets are managed on behalf of clients. Charter demand has been growing at a double-digit rate for some time.   

Le Bourget FBO Scores High in Survey
In a global survey of FBOs conducted earlier this year by Aviation International News (sister publication of NBAA Convention News), Dassault Falcon Service was ranked ninth overall in the international category. Perhaps more importantly, it was the top-rated FBO at Paris Le Bourget Airport, where some half a dozen facilities are now vying to handle the vast influx of business aircraft.

According to Dassault Falcon Service FBO director Jean-Louis Cehovic, the company has improved customer service by building a corporate culture of teamwork and devotion to customer satisfaction. For instance, Dassault has moved its service team into the main passenger area of the FBO to give them the best view of the apron, allowing better coordination of arrivals and departures. In recent months, the company has renovated its pilot lounges to make them more relaxing, while also providing more of the facilities crews need to prepare for flights.