Falcon assembly in India could be hint at new Falcon 2000
Dassault recently announced that it will build the smallest jet in its line-up, the Falcon 2000 series, in India under a joint venture (JV) with Reliance Group.
The JV was formally established in May 2017, with Dassault saying at the time that it was being established to offset its obligations from a 2016 order for 36 Rafale fighter jets placed by the Indian government.
Dassault says that it has invested over $110 million in the JV, which is split 51/49% in favour of Reliance.
The original plan was to manufacture components for the Falcon 2000 series business jets, but Dassault said at the time that there was the possibility of setting up final assembly lines for the Rafale fighter and Falcon business jets.
Based in Nagpur, India, DRAL has just completed work on its first Falcon 2000 series forward cockpit. Rather than ship it straight to Dassault’s final assembly line in Bordeaux France, it was first sent for display during the Aero India Air show in Bangalore from February 20th to 24th this year.
Dassault did not go as far as to say that all future Falcon 2000 series aircraft will be manufactured in India. However, the numbers of the aircraft being built every year have been falling.
The company does not give guidance on how many aircraft in each family it builds that it delivers every year, but our own analysis suggests that in 2018 there were 11 Falcon 2000 family aircraft delivered.
DRAL is aiming to deliver the first completed Falcon 2000 aircraft in 2022, by which time it will be over 10 years since the newest members of the family, the Falcon 2000S and Falcon 2000LXS, were announced.
With falling deliveries and the super-mid-size sector that the Falcon 2000 family competes in heating up, Dassault will be looking at ways to make its aircraft more competitive.
One way to do that would be to lower the acquisition cost of the aircraft. That can be done by lowering the manufacturing costs, although it remains to be seen just how much of an impact on costs manufacturing the aircraft in India will make.
The other way could be to introduce a new member in the family. Of the 11 aircraft that we estimate were delivered in 2018, only three were the Falcon 2000S variant. Two of the three aircraft are in Asia, with one each in Thailand and Vietnam.
Delivering 11 aircraft a year is not economically viable and moving part of the production to a new county even less so.
Dassault will have been working in the background for some years on the future of the Falcon 2000 family, but the basic airframe will be 30 years old by the time the first Indian built aircraft will be ready for delivery.