“The layoffs came primarily in initial engineering and design. Less affected were our main production activities such as building interiors, painting and flight test,” a Dassault Falcon spokesman told AIN in regard to the layoff of 111 workers last week from the Little Rock Completion Center.
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.
Dassault Aviation has announced a negative number of net orders–minus 27–for Falcon business jets during the first quarter due to cancellations. In the same period the French aircraft manufacturer delivered 11 Falcons compared with 15 in the first three months of last year, while revenues fell by 28 percent. Dassault is therefore slowing the monthly production rate for Falcons.
At its annual financial analysts meeting today, Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Charles Edelstenne announced a substantial increase in projected Falcon business jet deliveries this year, but noted that at the same time, “the production of green aircraft [in 2009] will be reduced as market conditions demand.” The French OEM delivered 72 business jets last year and anticipates deliveries of 90 this year.
Dassault Falcon has launched its new “E-forum” series of Internet-based communication seminars. The first of the hour-long sessions attracted 32 Falcon 7X users from the U.S., UK, France, Mexico, Brazil and Switzerland in an online interchange of maintenance information and best operating practices.
Turboméca and Dassault Falcon factories located in south- west France suffered only minor damage, if any, during a storm in January that packed winds of 93 mph. Operations were not interrupted, the companies told AIN. The engine maker has its headquarters in Bordes and one maintenance facility in Tarnos, while Dassault builds business jets in Biarritz and near Bordeaux. The storm caused major damage and killed 11 people.
Dassault Aviation late last month downgraded its 2008 delivery planning for Falcons, citing new FAA “constraints.” The manufacturer said the delivery rate increase that was expected for the fourth quarter will not be met, as some deliveries have been postponed to the first quarter.
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.
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 (Booth No. 235) has created a “virtual reality room” that lets aircraft designers step into the digital creations they have crafted on their Catia design screens to make sure every detail is right before ever building the real thing.