Dassault Aviation has reported a steep decline in business jet deliveries in the first half of this year but a significant jump in orders, including the first for its newly unveiled flagship Falcon 10X. At the same time, the French airframer is laying the groundwork for the Mach 0.925, 7,500-nm model, making plans to add or upgrade facilities in multiple locations in France.
Dassault delivered six Falcons from January through June of this year—a significant drop from the same period in 2020 when 16 were handed over. However, the company booked orders in the first half of 2021 for 25 aircraft valued at €1.413 billion ($1.66 billion), compared with five valued at €669 million ($787 million) during the first half of last year, when the Covid pandemic took root, the company reported yesterday.
“The business aviation market showed encouraging signs of improvement during the first half of 2021, particularly with the recovery of air travel in the U.S.,” the company said, calling the preowned end of the market buoyant. However, Dassault added that "price pressures remain.”
With the jump in orders, Dassault’s Falcon backlog grew to €2.86 billion, up from €2.15 billion at the end of 2020. The backlog encompasses 53 Falcons, including nine special-mission aircraft. At the end of 2020, the backlog stood at 34 Falcons.
Dassault expects deliveries to ramp up through the remainder of the year, which is in keeping with its earlier guidance of 25 deliveries this year and an anticipated increase in net sales. However, with the decline in first-half deliveries, net sales dropped to €702 million, versus €1.060 billion a year earlier.
The May 6 unveiling of the Falcon 10X was a long-awaited highlight for Dassault, which had held off initially in hopes of a live presentation. With the introduction, Dassault is throwing its hat into the ultra-long-range ring, bringing its wide-cabin aircraft to a market that also includes Bombardier’s Global 7500 and the in-development Gulfstream G700. Equipped with Rolls-Royce Pearl 10 engines, which can run on 100 percent sustainable alternative fuels, the 10X will be able to make flights from New York to Shanghai and Paris to Santiago.
With service entry planned for 2025, Dassault is making some facility upgrades throughout its factories—including reconfiguring the hangar in Biarritz that houses the Falcon 6X and 10X programs—with completion anticipated in August 2022. It also is building a 10X wing assembly facility, scheduled to be complete in 2022, along with a paint shop in Martignas.
In the shorter term, Dassault is expanding a facility in Istres for the 10X system testbed.
Meanwhile, its new Falcon 6X took to the skies on March 10, and now three development aircraft are in service, with 40 flights and 130 hours completed by the end of June. Dassault said the aircraft have demonstrated “excellent flight behavior and performance in line with expectations.”