Dassault Falcon Jet chairman Charles Edelstenne offered a less-than-glowing look at the current state of business aviation as it struggles with the recession and he noted in a press conference yesterday that there are mixed signals with regard to a recovery.
It was three years ago at the NBAA Convention in Orlando that the industry was faced with the sub-prime crisis, he pointed out. "Today, we are still struggling," he added.
And while the sale of 34 new Falcon Jets in the first three quarters of this year and expectations of the delivery of more than 85 aircraft by the end of the year are good signs, a true recovery in new aircraft sales is not likely until the used aircraft market recovers. And the used aircraft inventory continues to decline only very slowly.
Dassault Falcon president John Rosanvallon noted that while sales were balanced evenly among the three Falcon models, the fact that only 25 percent of those sales were from U.S. customers was "disappointing." On the other hand, he noted that Dassault expects to deliver three Falcon 7Xs in China this year.
Both Edelstenne and Rosanvallon pointed to an increase in flight activity as a positive sign, and pointed out that passage of the Small Business Jobs Act extending the bonus depreciation bill would likely spur new aircraft sales. Rosanvallon also noted an increase in the number of inquiries on the part of Fortune 500 companies. But again he addressed a less-than-optimistic outlook from Honeywell, which in its 2010 forecast suggests no real recovery before 2012.
The Honeywell forecast is one with which both men generally agree, but at the same time Dassault is investing in the future by strengthening service and support worldwide.
Among the steps to expand and improve service and support is launch of new spares pricing initiatives. The new "high-volume discount" program for spare-parts purchases and free shipping on core return purchases are part of a broader effort to reward customers.
The high-volume discount program is based on a customer's total annual spare-parts purchases from Dassault, with a discount being applied to qualifying purchases in the following year. It also includes three new tiers of purchase volume, each with its own discount, allowing operators who fall into these category tiers potentially to qualify for a higher discount next year.
Eying Asia as a growing market for Falcon aircraft, Dassault is expanding its sales, service and support network in that part of the world.
Dassault Falcon recently signed an agreement adding the Hawker Pacific business aviation service center in Shanghai as an authorized service center. At Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport, Hawker Pacific is scheduled to be fully on line within six months. A Falcon "go team" is already positioned at the site and prepared to provide support to Falcon operators in the area. The center is expected to receive its Part 145 repair station certificate from both the U.S. and Chinese aviation authorities by April 2011. The Shanghai center will be capable of handling work on all three Falcon models.
Meanwhile, Dassault's wholly owned component repair facility–Midway Aircraft Instrument in Teterboro, N.J.–has received Part 145 certification from the Civil Airworthiness Authority of China (CAAC). Approved capabilities under the CAAC certificate include 138 part numbers on the Falcon 900EX, 900EX EASy, 900DX and 2000 models. "This is not only a benefit to Falcon operators in China where the fleet is rapidly expanding, but also to transient operators passing through the region who may need maintenance and repair.
Dassault Falcon has also established an Asian sales and marketing headquarters in the Chinese capital of Beijing. According to Jean-Michel Jacob, who will lead the sales team as v-p of international sales, "Firmly establishing Dassault's presence in China today positions us to serve the needs of its growing business aviation sector."
Closer to home, Dassault Falcon has appointed Jeddah-based Saudia Private Aviation Engineering and Maintenance as a line service center, expanding Dassault's authorized network in the Middle East. The facility, with 43,000 sq ft, two large hangars, workshops and storage, employs more than 75 technicians, and provides maintenance services for all Falcon models.
In the U.S., Dassault Aviation Services Reno recently received Part 145 approval from EASA. "With our newly granted EASA certification, Reno is fully capable of servicing any European-registered aircraft, from AOG support and line maintenance up to a C-check," said DAS chief operating officer Bob Sundin.