Dassault’s unexpected announcement here in Geneva on Monday of the new 2000S model fills a crucial entry-level gap at the lower end of the Falcon family. It also suggests that the company’s long-planned SMS development will in fact fit a different niche than its “super-midsize” working title suggests.
On the commercial front, 2010 ended for Dassault with a record €3.2 billion (about $4.2 billion) of revenues generated by the Falcon business jets. This was the bottom line of a record 95 deliveries. Forty-one of them were Falcon 7Xs.
Although fewer cancellations were recorded, last year's sales efforts ended with a net negative tally of nine orders. However, in monetary terms, Falcon orders brought in €474 million ($620 million) in sales during 2010. The company attributes this positive number to support services and a favorable euro/dollar exchange rate.
As a consequence of the negative net orders in 2010, the production rate will decrease. About 70 Falcons will be delivered this year. The order backlog stood at 145, as of the end of 2010.
At the company’s annual press conference to discuss financial results in February, Edelstenne appeared cautiously optimistic on 2011 sales prospects. “The beginning of this year seems to confirm [the favorable trend of] late 2010,” said Dassault CEO Charles Edelstenne. China, for example, is active. “All conditions are met there now—customers can afford business jets, our aircraft are certified, our support organization is in place and the country is opening its airspace to general aviation,” he explained.
However, Dassault's outlook for 2011 is based on “an expected global economic slowdown.” Moreover, dollar/euro exchange rate fluctuations are anticipated that could continue to impact the competitiveness of the French manufacturer. The latest Dassault financial statement also acknowledges continued drag on the supply side of the equation, a “significant number of pre-owned aircraft are available for sale on a worldwide scale.”
Earlier this year, Edelstenne revealed that the manufacturer has ceased production of two slow-selling business jet models—the Falcon 2000DX and the Falcon 900DX. Nevertheless, compared to the industry average, overall deliveries remain sustained. Meanwhile, the design of the long-awaited supers-midsize SMS jet is progressing.
On the DX decision, another company official explained to AIN that their production rate—only a handful per year—did not represent a sound industrial case. The DX letters were designating shorter-range versions, offered at what it was hoped would represent an attractive price. For example, in 2009, the Falcon 900DX was about $4 million cheaper than the longer-range LX. Remaining in production are the $32.1 million Falcon 2000LX, the $42.4 million Falcon 900LX and the $50.1 million Falcon 7X (2011 list prices).
Meanwhile, the SMS' development is in full swing, as the “plateau” concurrent engineering scheme now regroups 300 design engineers at the company headquarters in Saint-Cloud, near Paris. Edelstenne kept quiet on the selected suppliers, although Canada-based Héroux-Devtek made it official late last year that it will provide the landing gear.
Two windtunnel campaigns have been completed at low and high speeds. On this basis, Edelstenne sees the aerodynamic configuration of the SMS as being almost definitive. Given the planned year for entry into service, 2016, AIN understands the SMS will be a Falcon 2000 replacement.