Since production ended more than 25 years ago of the small, sleek Falcon 10, Dassault has concentrated on building larger business jets. But, in answer to NBAA Convention News’ question at a media briefing here yesterday, Dassault Aviation chairman Charles Edelstenne disclosed that he has asked his engineers and marketers to “reopen the question” of developing a smaller jet.
When pressed to give a timetable on when he asked his people to consider returning to the smaller business jet market and when he expected an answer from them, Edelstenne was reticent. Dassault officials noted that the company has been successful up to now concentrating on the market for business jets in the $20 million to $40 million price range.
The market may seem glutted with smaller business jets–Cessna has long been the trophy winner when it comes to deliveries–but the indications are that Dassault is feeling pressure to reenter this segment.
Meanwhile, the company is concentrating its efforts on reaching certification and deliveries of three current developments: the Honeywell EASy cockpit, the Falcon 2000EX and the Falcon 7X.
In just a few months, the first Falcon 2000EXs will enter the final stages of certification. Deliveries of the 3,800-nm super-midsize business jet with Collins Pro Line 4 avionics is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of next year. First deliveries of the Falcon 2000 wth the Honeywell EASy flight deck are set to start in the second quarter of 2004.
Dassault projects that the 2000EX will out-deliver its 900EX. In the first half of this year, the number of Falcon 2000s delivered virtually matched the delivery rate of all the other Falcon models combined. Powered by two 7,000 lb-thrust P&WC PW308C turbofans, the Falcon 2000EX will enter service with a TBO of 7,000 hr.
Falcon 7X Finding Its Stride
Development of the 5,700-nm Falcon 7X is gaining momentum, as various aspects of the design and aircraft systems are completed. Final wind-tunnel confirmation is scheduled for early next year. First flight is set for 2005 with deliveries to start in 2006. In addition to a newly designed wing, which Dassault claims is 30 percent more efficient than current Falcon wings, the Falcon 7X will also be the first purpose-built corporate jet with fly-by-wire primary controls and sidestick controllers (like the Airbus Corporate Jetliner version of the A319). The 7X flightdeck will also feature an EASy avionics system.
The Falcon 7X will be manufactured in a new 226,000-sq-ft factory to be built in Bordeaux, France. A special team involved in the 7X manufacturing process is helping to define the building’s functionalities. The foundation stone of the structure is scheduled to be laid on September 16 and construction is expected to be completed next summer.
Sales and deliveries of new Falcon Jets have maintained their levels for several years, despite the poor economy, a situation that pleases Dassault officials. The company has delivered between 73 and 75 Falcons per year since 2000 and expects that rate to continue through 2004. “In addition, our new aircraft, like the Falcon 2000EX and 7X, are being well received by the market, helping us to build a solid backlog,” according to Falcon CEO Jean-Francois Georges. Indeed, the next available position for a 7X is the second quarter 2008.