Dassault Aviation this morning reported a negative order intake for the first half of this year due to Falcon business jet order cancellations. While the company logged €900 million ($1.28 billion) in Falcon sales in the first half, down slightly from the €1.1 billion ($1.56 billion) recorded in the same period last year, business jet order cancellations far exceeded sales.
With an eye toward ever-increasing environmental awareness, Dassault Aviation is aiming for 2020 entry into service for new technologies that will reduce the fuel burn of future Falcon business jets by 40 percent from that of current in-production Falcons.
France’s Dassault Aviation has signed an agreement with three out of four unions for a part-time working arrangement planned from September to February next year. Unlike most actions taken by business aircraft manufacturers since the beginning of the crisis last September, this one, affecting 3,000 employees, will have a limited impact on salaries.
Technical negotiations with the United Arab Emirates for what will be the first export sale of the Dassault Aviation Rafale combat jet, are almost complete. But commercial and government talks continue, so a formal announcement is probably still some months away. Deliveries are unlikely before 2013. At the Paris Air Show, Dassault displayed two scale models of the Rafale with weapons configurations that are unique to the UAE.
Thales, Europe’s third largest civil and defense aerospace group, makes its first appearance at Le Bourget since it acquired a new shareholder and executive board last month.
Dassault Aviation CEO Charles Edelstenne on Friday made it clear that all design choices for its next Falcon business jet, a super-midsize aircraft codenamed SMS, have been reopened–including the engine. During a press conference at the company’s headquarters in Saint-Cloud, near Paris, Edelstenne also commented on the tricky economic situation, saying further layoffs might be decided by year-end.
Dismissing the current downturn as a temporary setback, Dassault is expanding its Falcon service center network, confident that deliveries planned over the coming months and years warrant the addition of several centers, either owned or authorized, according to Dassault’s customer support senior executives.
With layoffs, furloughs, production cutbacks and cost controls, the industry is adjusting to the stress of the recession and the reduced demand for business aircraft.
Despite a rising stock market, a decline in new unemployment filings and other signs that the economy is recovering, the business aviation market is still bouncing along the rocky bottom, according to some analysts.
Looking back on European business aviation’s boom years of 2004 to 2008, new figures from the European General Aviation Manufacturers Association (EGAMA) show that during this period the value of its members’ combined deliveries climbed by 59 percent to peak at $12 billion last year. In 2008, almost 1,000 aircraft were delivered by an industry that directly supports 35,000 jobs in Europe.
A man who has witnessed just about every step of business aviation’s development over the past four decades finally began a very well earned retirement earlier this year. When Carl Hirschmann set up Jet Aviation in Basel, Switzerland back in 1967, he not only took over the hangar from the failed holiday charter airline Globe Air, but also that company’s deputy technical director–Elie Zelouf.