Dassault Falcon 6X delayed by Covid, Falcon 10X in production and launches Falcon Privacy

Alasdair Whyte

 

* Dassault sold 51 Falcons in 2021 compared to 15 in 2020.

* Covid and Ukraine crisis hitting supply chain.

* Falcon 6X first deliveries move to mid-2023 rather than end of 2022 due to Covid delays.

* First customer Falcon 6X (the fifth it has built) in completion at our Little Rock, Arkansas facility, aircraft number six flying soon. Aircraft seven to 15  in final assembly in Bordeaux-Mérignac.

* Falcon 10X in production targeting entry into service in 2025.

* Working on Falcon Privacy – a similar individual compartment and an electrically reclining seat/bed as found on first class airlines.  “The engineering challenge to applying the concept to executive jets, from a certification standpoint, is significant,” said Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO Dassault Aviation.

 Building major new facilities in Kuala Lumpur and Dubai. Closed Wilmington, Delaware facility and will soon open a new facility in Islip, near New York City. Looking at expanding US service business.

 

Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO Dassault Aviation speech at EBACE in full:

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to today’s press conference.

It’s good to see the business aviation world together here in Geneva once again after three years of disruption.

Before we start, I’d like to share my commiseration with the Ukrainian people, who are waging a war in their country, right here in Europe, 1,400 km from Geneva. People who are dying to preserve their families, their way of life and their freedom.

No one could have predicted such a disaster even 6 months ago. This is a lesson we all need to remember: peace is fragile, and we must do everything we can to ensure it remains durable, in particular by maintaining our defense capabilities.

Now on to EBACE 2022 news.

We are finally back to an almost normal situation, at least close enough to normal to say we are back again on the right track, thanks to the incredible adaptability and resilience of our industry. And thanks to that, I can report that our company is doing well, as 2021 results show.

But before I get to our Falcon activity status, I’d like to stress that the Covid epidemic is still active– fortunately not at the crisis levels we knew before, but strong enough to disrupt business.

In particular, the fast recovery with limited resources of the global economy is creating unprecedented constraints on the supply chain, not only in our industry but across the entire manufacturing sector.

In addition, the war in Ukraine is adding its own disruption in many ways, sparking further rise in energy prices, shortages and when there are no shortages, forcing us to find alternative sources of supply for some key products.

Together, these crises are fueling inflation, which is driving up our costs and therefore our prices.

Coming back to business aviation, 2021 was a great year for our new aircraft programs. We performed the first flight of the extra-wide body Falcon 6X and launched the all-new ultra-long range Falcon 10X, which features an even bigger cabin.

2021 also witnessed a rebound on the business side as reduced pandemic risk began generating renewed demand for air travel. Flight activity climbed above pre-2019 levels, and continues to grow.

The sudden demand for business jet flights has stimulated aircraft sales, starting with the pre-owned market and, now that the availability of second–hand aircraft has dried up, new aircraft purchases.

This translated into 51 Falcon orders last year compared to 15 in 2020.

Momentum continues to be good across our different geographical market segments, with promising opportunities around the world, particularly in North America and Europe, with the exception of China, where demand remains sluggish.

At the moment, we are observing contrasting trends in the marketplace.

More people are now recognizing the benefits business aviation can bring and what it can mean to their own businesses and communities.

This stems partly from health issues related to the Covid epidemic and the airline disruptions it has caused.

The epidemic has highlighted traditional bizav benefits, like flexibility, responsiveness, and access to close-in, less congested airports. Business aircraft have also proved essential, for example, in distributing vaccines and, during the worst of the crisis, transporting caregivers and medical supplies.

At the same time, environmental concerns are continuing to trigger tax, regulatory impulses, and also the taxonomy currently being discussed within the European Commission.

This trend is of particular concern at a time when we have been studying new technologies to help our industry meet growing emissions constraints and support the environmental transition.

The use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel is one of these and actually the most promising way in the short term to decarbonize aviation and meet the commitment of achieving zero emissions by 2050.

It is then of utmost importance that we quickly define international standard for SAF production and distribution. And that we and other OEMs continue to promote its usage through various industry partnerships and alliances. Hopefully, this will soon help make SAF readily available around the world.

We also need to take steps to ensure our airplanes are SAF compatible. This is already the case with all current Falcons, which can fly with a 50% SAF blend. [And by the way, this morning I came in board an airplane fueled with SAF]. Our latest aircraft, the Falcon 10X, will be 100 percent SAF compatible.

In addition we are working with engine manufacturers to find more ways to decrease fuel consumption. We are also developing lighter structural materials and improved aerodynamics, as well as designing new flight planning tools that help pilots map out the most fuel efficient routes.

So a lot is going on to meet our carbon commitment and it is vital that we, as an industry, with the help of our partners at NBAA, GAMA, EBAA, the French industry association GIFAS, and the European Association ASD continue to get the word out that we are part of the solution, not the problem. As I mentioned earlier, Dassault currently has two completely new aircraft in development, simultaneously, and each will lead its category in cabin comfort and advanced technology.

The Falcon 6X continues to progress through its certification program and has cleared most of its major flight trials.

The three flight test aircraft have flown more than 850 hours to date, completely opening up the flight envelope, and the EASA certification process has begun.

Despite our intense efforts, the supply chain issues I mentioned earlier, linked to the successive waves of the Covid epidemic–the latest being last Februaryhave ended up overwhelming our engineering and production teams and impacting the 6X development and manufacturing timetable.

Consequently, our anticipated year-end 2022 target for the entry into service of the aircraft is shifting, and is now forecast for mid-year 2023. This is a few months later than initially anticipated. But given the immense challenges, we and our partners have faced these last two years, it remains relatively modest.

That said, aircraft number four is on display here equipped with a full interior, and you can drop by and visit it at our static display.

Next month, this same aircraft will embark on a worldwide proving campaign intended to validate the aircraft in operating conditions to ensure that onboard systems and equipment are fully operational and mature upon entry into service.

Aircraft number fivethe first that will be delivered to a customer–is currently in completion at our Little Rock, Arkansas facility, with aircraft number six to follow any day now. Aircraft 7 through 15 are currently in final assembly in Bordeaux-Mérignac.

If we take a look now at the 10X program, I can report that development of that big new aircraft is moving forward smoothly.

This ultra-long-range -very-high-speed aircraft will fly non-stop from Geneva to Santiago, or from Geneva to Jakarta or even better to the west coast of Australia.

Most of the detailed design is frozen and parts, major structures and subsystems have entered production, with final assembly of the first aircraft scheduled early next year.

Rolls Royce has begun bench testing the Pearl 10X engine, surpassing target thrust levels on the first run. It has accumulated over 1,000 hours on the bench to date, including runs with 100 percent SAF.

We’re targeting Entry Into Service for late 2025.

Now, a few words on how we’re doing on the support side of the business. Our primary focus right now is on tailoring our expanding worldwide maintenance, repair and overhaul organization to have it ready for the 6X and later the 10X.

Over the past three years we’ve considerably grown our factory-owned MRO network. It now includes four wholly owned companiesDassault Falcon Service, Dassault Aircraft Services, ExecuJet and Tag Maintenance Servicesand offers MRO services at 40 locations around the world.

We are currently building major new facilities in Kuala Lumpur and Dubai designed to serve our growing customer base and accommodate the new FALCON 6X and 10X.

In the U.S., we recently closed our maintenance center in Wilmington, Delaware and will soon open a new facility in Islip, near New York City. We are also considering future expansion of capacity in the U.S.

While I’m on the subject of customer experience, I would like to unveil our latest innovation, something we think customers are going to be very excited about.

It’s called the Falcon Privacy Suite.

The conceptan individual compartment and an electrically reclining seat that converts into a lie-flat bed–was pioneered by commercial airlines. But up to now it has not been available on purpose-built business jets. And I can tell you the engineering challenge to applying the concept to executive jets, from a certification standpoint, is significant.

As you can see, despite the challenges, our company remains solid in its commitment to doing whatever it takes to ensure complete customer satisfaction. Whether it be updating legacy models, bringing new models and features to market, or adding and enhancing facilities to support the growing fleet.

This translates into heavy investment, not only to provide customers with the level of comfort, safety, reliability and efficiency they demand and expect, but also to meet increasing environmental concerns.

Before closing, permit me to say a last word about the crisis in Ukraine.

It is my firm hope that peace talks will start soon to end this war and allow the Ukrainian people to return to their families and enjoy the normal lives they have been fighting for.

 

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