At Dassault Falcon’s ABACE 2013 press conference yesterday the news was all good. “In January we formed a full Chinese subsidiary known as Dassault Falcon Business Services Company, located in Beijing,” Jean Rosanvallon, CEO of Dassault Falcon, told AIN. The French company has been doing well in Asia, with its flagship 7X aircraft, in particular, selling very well. Rosanvallon said that, as of 2011, China has become Dassault Falcon’s number-one market, even ahead of the U.S.
The French aircraft OEM has also put its toe in the water on the manufacturing side this past decade, with both the forward fuel tank on the Falcon 2000 series and the 7X’s T3 section being built by China’s Avic. “We have no plans for anything like final assembly [in China],” said Rosanvallon. “We looked at it with Avic a few years ago, but decided then it was premature.”
Dassault Falcon (Chalet 350) recently expanded its long-term relationship with Shanghai Hawker Pacific, the MRO and FBO, which is hosting ABACE 2013 here at Hongqiao Airport. “Hawker Pacific has been a long-time partner for us in Australia and Southeast Asia,” said Rosanvallon. “We are building on our partnership and it’s a great success; from the FBO and maintenance standpoint, Hawker Pacific has been the leader in China.”
In a move unique for OEMs in Asia, Dassault placed three company pilots in Beijing specifically to help customer pilots get the best out of the jets. “A lot [of customer pilots] are coming from the airline world, and they are reluctant to push the 7X, in particular, to its range limits,” noted Rosanvallon. The company pilots help with training on the sophisticated avionics in the aircraft, including SVS and FLIR, which can make the aircraft more capable in low IFR than even airliners.
With the Dassault Falcon family celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the manufacturer is hoping for another year like 2011 in sales, which represented “a big turning point for us,” said Rosanvallon. “It’s important to see that even though we were not number one in the market in 2012, China continues to be a very active market for us. Our market share is growing in Asia. During the past five to six years Gulfstream has been ahead, but today we’re equal or slightly ahead due to all-out investment and efforts,” Rosanvallon continued. “We have our own sales people here and have three sales offices: in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.”
Dassault Falcon has two types of customers in China, according to Rosanvallon: “large organizations, such as Minsheng Bank, usually buying a fleet to sell to their customers with the help of the OEM, and ABC Bank, the second largest bank in China; and the second market, which is all the successful entrepreneurs.”
At the end of this year, Rosanvallon expects that his company will have more than 20 Falcon 7Xs in Hong Kong and mainland China. “In 2013 we are delivering more than 10,” he said. Dassault Falcon’s market share in the Asia Pacific region (not including India) was just over 30 percent for 2011-2012, “which is incredible,” said Rosanvallon, although he believes there is large pent-up demand from companies that currently charter jets and remain “cautious.” “This is why many of the [current] buyers are the entrepreneurs,” he observed.
Introduced at the press conference was Kathy Liu, director, customer service, Asia. Liu pointed out to the primarily Chinese audience that Dassault Falcon has made a huge investment in infrastructure to support its aircraft in China.
With Dassault Falcon recently celebrating the EASA certification of its new Falcon 2000S and 2000LXS aircraft, Rosanvallon concluded by saying the “codename remains the same” for its brand-new Falcon: the SMS. New information about the SMS project should be released at this year’s NBAA Convention in October, he confirmed. o