Dassault’s in-development Falcon 2000S large-cabin business jet is beating its initial performance objectives, the French manufacturer of business jet and fighter jets said yesterday at EBACE. CEO of Dassault Aviation, Charles Edelstenne, was bullish about prospects for sales and told journalists at the company’s press conference that the market is in “a slow transition to recovery.”
“Landing performance will be 10 percent better than targeted numbers,” said Olivier Villa, senior v-p for civil aircraft. Better than hoped-for low-speed performance was obtained with new inboard slats that “work together” with winglets. They are associated with an autobrake system that starts braking earlier than the crew could do.
The improved landing distances should thus expand the number of secondary airports the aircraft can serve. Although the 2000S has a larger cabin, its target competitors are in the super-midsize category, like the Gulfstream G280. Dassault claims to have significantly better landing performance. So far, the landing distance that appeared on the 2000S’ performance sheet has been 2,600 feet at sea level for a “typical landing weight.”
The Falcon 2000S prototype has undergone 300 hours of flight tests in about 130 flights. Still to come is testing the integration of the EASy II cockpit.
In addition, Pratt & Whitney Canada is to have its enhanced PW308C certified in the third quarter. Thanks to its Talon II combustor, it is expected to meet Zurich V emissions standard. In the next few days, Dassault is to install the first enhanced-version engines on the Falcon 2000S prototype at its Istres, southeast France flight-test center.
Aircraft certification is expected in the fourth quarter of this year. Deliveries are then to start in the first quarter of 2013. The first green production aircraft will be ferried in June from Dassault’s Bordeaux, southwest France factory to its completion center in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The still-under-wraps SMS program, understood to be a slightly larger jet than the 2000 series, is in the detailed design phase. Edelstenne said customers are involved in the definition of the aircraft, “as usual.” He committed to publicly unveil the SMS next year.
On the Falcon 7X, Dassault is offering a shower as an option. One was installed at a customer’s request before it came to the official list of options. It is a seated shower with a dimmable window. Water tanks allow 30 minutes of in-flight body washing at a maximum 48 degrees Celsius (118F). Currently, the company holds one order for a shower on a new aircraft; retrofits are not being offered.
Although he did use the word “recovery,” Edelstenne appeared cautious about the business aviation market. Indeed, sales are strong in the Far East, with 12 Falcon deliveries scheduled this year in China alone. The prospects for the country adopting business aviation has encouraged Dassault to plan to set up a Falcon service station in Beijing in 2013, possibly with a local partner.
Latin America remains active, while Russia and Eastern Europe show “positive signs.” Brazil and Australia remain in the “good activity” group. However, Dassault has experienced “disappointment” in Western Europe, due to a depressed pre-owned market, said Edelstenne. In that region, only Germany and Austria seem to keep Dassault’s salesmen happy. Another mature market, the U.S., has been disappointing. The only hope is that “Fortune 500 companies begin to discuss replacements,” said John Rosanvallon, president and CEO of Dassault Falcon Jet. In India, sales have “stalled” for three years, due to a weak currency and a strong inflation. The Middle East remains relatively quiet. African activity is concentrated in oil-producing countries like Nigeria.