Dassault Aviation has entered “exclusive negotiations” with Alcatel-Lucent to take over its 20.8-percent stake in defense electronics specialist Thales. The buyout would boost Dassault’s stake in Thales to 26 percent and mark a strong return to defense electronics for the French airframer at a time when the economic slowdown is threatening sales of business jets.
On March 30 next year Dassault Falcon will open its newest factory-owned service center at Nevada’s Reno-Tahoe International Airport. The service center will be housed in a 38,000-sq-ft former American Airlines hangar. Dassault will hire and train 18 mechanics for the opening, and that number is expected to grow to 40 in five years.
Dassault Aviation is close to getting approval for its Falcon 7X aircraft to operate from London City Airport. The airport is just a couple of miles from the UK capital’s financial district and has a 5.5-deg steep approach.
Over the last 12 months, the respected French builder of business jets has delivered an average of one new Falcon every month in the Middle East, increasing the current fleet to 41. Meanwhile, sales of new Falcons to customers in the area have remained on target, according to the company.
Conceding that the market has suffered a “significant slowdown” in the U.S. and Europe in the past few months, Dassault chairman and CEO Charles Edelstenne, speaking at an NBAA breakfast gathering today, noted nevertheless that the order book at Dassault Falcon remains “solid, with very few cancellations.” He said that the company has sold 500 aircraft worldwide over the past three years.
Dassault Falcon yesterday announced the long-anticipated upgrade to the Honeywell Primus Epic-based EASy (Enhanced Avionics System) flight deck: the EASy Phase II system with synthetic-vision system (SVS) technology.
Sales of Dassault’s Falcon line held up well during the first half of this year, compensating for a dip on the military side of its business. Declining defense orders saw the French group’s sales for the first six months of this year down by almost 14 percent from last year’s first half figure of r1.79 billion to r1.54 billion ($2.28 billion).
While orders notched by European aerospace OEMs and suppliers in the last year have reached record levels, the continued weakness of the U.S. dollar against the euro is eroding profits and putting increased pressure on some companies to move production outside Europe to low-cost and/or dollar-zone countries.
Aircraft manufacturers are tackling the challenges of providing after-sale support for their aircraft like never before, with stepped up efforts in areas ranging from improved parts distribution and pricing to the addition of factory-owned service centers and authorized independent facilities. Two long-range business jet manufacturers, Gulfstream and Dassault, are at the forefront of efforts to improve support on a global scale.
Dassault Aviation and Unijet, two companies that have a long history at Paris Le Bourget, have been selected to operate from the new terminal at the dedicated business airport. More activity is planned on the airport, as Dubai-based JetEx Flight Support will operate a VIP FBO at the main terminal at the site’s entrance. It is the first Middle East aviation company to establish permanent operations in Europe.