Dassault has bucked the trend among business jet manufacturers of announcing massive job cuts, furloughs or temporary factory closures since the beginning of the economic downturn in 2001. Still, the French company has significantly reduced production rates for its Falcon line.
Dassault is working quietly on the design for what could become a supersonic business jet (SSBJ). In June the French aircraft manufacturer announced the creation of a “common working group” with Sukhoi to study such an aircraft.
Dassault, which earlier this year disclosed it would cut production to between 50 and 60 Falcons this year, said at the Paris Air Show in June that the number will actually be “about 50.” It also plans to reduce production even further next year, to about 48 business jets. Dassault delivered 66 Falcons last year, down from a record 75 in 2001.
Last year, things were bad for the completion and refurbishment industry as companies were feeling the effects of the economic recession. Even so, there was an attempt by many to put a positive face on the future. With the perspective now of 20/20 hindsight, a more accurate forecast would have been, “things are never so bad that they can’t get worse.”
Dassault Falcon has appointed two new authorized service centers in South Africa and reached agreement with a third company to provide service center support in Turkey.
Bhakari Aviation and Execujet South Africa, both located at Lanseria International Airport in South Africa, will provide scheduled and unscheduled maintenance support, transient service, troubleshooting, AOG support and basic inspections.
Dassault Aviation CEO Charles Edelstenne is confident about the future of the French company’s broadening line of Falcons as it ramps up completion efforts for the 7X and prepares to launch its new super-midsize jet. But the pressure of a weakening dollar that is affecting all European aerospace companies is making the company cautious about future models.
Dassault Aviation’s unwillingness to develop a new light business jet to replace the Falcon 10 and 20 models is starting to cost it business. European executive charter firms, in particular, are increasingly looking to add smaller, more affordable models to their fleets in a bid to attract new business aviation users.
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.
Last month, Dassault Aviation delivered its 1,500th Falcon, a Falcon 2000. Charles Edelstenne, chairman of Dassault Aviation and Dassault Falcon Jet, presented the Falcon 2000 to Kevin Russell, senior vice president of Executive Jet. The delivery is the 29th Falcon of the more than 100 Falcons ordered for the Executive Jet NetJets fractional aircraft owner program. The 1,500 Falcons include 42 for use in search and rescue with the U.S.
Midwest independent cabin completion and refurbishment specialist Duncan Aviation has signed a long-term agreement to do Falcon 7X green completion work under contract to French manufacturer Dassault Aviation. According to a spokesman for Duncan, the first 7X arrived May 2 at its Lincoln, Neb. facility and is due to emerge as a finished airplane in the first quarter of next year.