Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier has reflected on a sudden, unexpected flourish of Falcon sales in July and August following what was a “very flat” first half performance, selling only seven business jets in that six-month period. By August 31, the French manufacturer had sold 26 year-to-date, taking the backlog to 56 Falcons, with 23 delivered—“a book-to-bill of greater than one,” he said.
Trappier reflected on the strength of Rafale fighter sales and deliveries helping it remain financially robust and pointed to the Falcon 6X as the big hope for Falcon sales, noting the cancellation of the 5X effectively costing it four years. Overall, the company has a €19.2 billion ($21.04 billion) backlog, while it recorded €286 million ($313.3 million) first-half income on just over €3 billion ($3.29 billion) in sales, including Rafales and Falcons. This represents a margin of 9.4 percent, slightly down on 10.9 percent for the first half of 2018. Available cash as at the end of June 2019 was €4.8 billion ($5.26 billion) with expenditure continuing into the ramp-up for 6X production and other projects, such as its expanded service network from the recent acquisitions of facilities from Execujet, TAG Aviation, and Ruag.
Trappier said Falcon sales in most parts of the world were “a bit flat," the exception being the U.S., although he said undisclosed hedging strategies had been put in place to protect against any slide in the strength in the U.S. dollar relative to the Euro. He expressed hope for China and—as “a separate market”—the rest of Asia, where Dassault continues to invest, he said.
The 6X program is “progressing in line with schedule” for service entry in 2022, said Trappier—work has started on wing subassemblies while four Pratt & Whitney Canada PW812D engines are in test, with more than 1,000 hours achieved to date. Some 150 of those hours have been on a flying testbed.
Finally, Trappier said work continues on the “Future Falcon,” but it remains “confidential…We’re working on it.”