Dassault Aviation boosted customer support with the inauguration of a new Dassault Falcon Service (DFS) facility at Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport on November 10. Located beside the French airframer’s final assembly line, the new complex adds 527,448 sq ft (49,000 sq m) of space for Falcon maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) support, including a 77,502 sq ft (7,200 sq m) hangar. It will be able to accommodate up to six of the largest Falcons (the 7X, 8X and 5X) at the same time.
“This additional capacity will permit DFS to keep up with the steady growth in the Falcon fleet, which currently numbers 2,100 aircraft worldwide and is expected to expand significantly with the arrival of the Falcon 8X, which started deliveries last month,” said Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier. The Bordeaux service center will supplement the existing facility at Paris Le Bourget Airport, as well as those at Wilmington, Del.; Reno, Nev.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Sorocaba, Brazil. Dassault had considered further expanding the Le Bourget site, but lack of space there prompted the construction in in Bordeaux.
The Bordeaux center, which represents an investment of $21.4 million, can handle C checks (due after between seven and eight years of service) on the 7X. DFS general manager Jean Kayanakis said that the first 7X arrived for service on October 17 and was returned to its owner on October 28. As of mid-November, four 7Xs had been worked on in the new facility, which employs 70 people.
The center also hosts the Dassault Training Academy, which provides more efficient hands-on training for Falcon mechanics using enhanced reality 3D goggles to allow—via digital mock-ups—full access to the entire airframe and aircraft systems. Groups of trainees can practice inspecting, repairing and replacing parts and airframe sections. “With this new tool we are able to train 10 people at the same time, which would be impossible in a real aircraft,” explained Patrice Kurdijian, Dassault’s service center network and maintenance training director.
The first session for what Dassault is calling “Immersive” training covered structural repairs, such as dealing with corrosion. In next year’s first quarter it will add programs covering composite repairs and trouble-shooting. The manufacturer is making the same digital technology available to the French air force, which may use it to support its Rafale fighters.
Expanding Maintenance Share
In 2015, DFS generated €176 million ($189 million) of revenue, with 80 percent of this coming from MRO activities and the rest from a mix of charter operations, FBO services and its role as a Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization (Camo). Trappier indicated that he wants DFS to expand its market share of worldwide Falcon support work, which currently stands at around 35 percent.
The Le Bourget center, the main one in the DFS network, can handle 25 Falcons at the same time in its 979,500 sq ft (91,000 sq m) space, comprising seven hangars with an area of 409,000 sq ft (38,000 sq m) and an aircraft parking ramp of 412,000 sq ft (39,000 sq m). Also based at Le Bourget is a Falcon 900 that is used to dispatch parts and mechanics to support operators with AOG events as part of the Falcon Response service. Another Falcon 900 is based at Teterboro Airport for the same function.
Since 2004, Dassault has increased the number of regional distribution centers around the world to 15 from two. This year it opened a delivery facility at Le Bourget and the value of spares stocks around the world now stands at $800 million.
Over the same period, the DFS network has doubled the number of service centers from 26 to 49. The company is now planning to add to more—one in Russia and the other in the Austrian capital Vienna.
Dassault also has boosted the number of front line field service representatives to 104 (up by more than 25 percent since 2010) and they are spread across 35 offices in 14 countries. Each DFS customer relationship manager oversees support for 25 Falcons on average.
With this network, DFS expects to improve its dispatch reliability rate to 99.7 percent, which means there will be fewer than three delayed or cancelled flights per 1,000 planned departures.