Dassault Reports Strong Falcon Business Jet Sales Recovery

Dassault Falcon 6X
Credit: Dassault Aviation

LYON—Falcon business jet sales are seeing a strong recovery, notably thanks to U.S. demand, Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier reports.

During the first half of 2021, the airframer received orders for 25 Falcons, up from a meager five during the same period last year. The newly launched Falcon 10X has received its first orders. “The market is restarting, especially in the U.S., where optimism is high,” Trappier said at the company’s mid-year press conference, adding: “Competition is still fierce on prices.”

Falcon deliveries have been slow, at six, because of earlier sluggish orders. The backlog stands at 53 with 25 deliveries planned for this year. 

“The second-hand market remains brisk, it was active during the crisis,” Trappier said.

Until recently, Dassault’s executives were worrying about the supply chain because of the widespread crisis in the civil-aviation industry. The health of small and medium-size companies is now benefiting from increased demand from Airbus for its A320 narrowbodies, according to Trappier. However, restrictions in the movement of goods worldwide are generating inflation for prices of raw materials and electronic components, he said.

Meanwhile, the Falcon 6X program is said to be on time for entry into service in 2022, despite the difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are striving every day . . . we have good hope,” said Trappier, suggesting no more slack can be found in the schedule.

Three test aircraft have logged a combined 130 flight hours in 40 sorties. The third one is flying with a fully completed cabin interior. Performance is on target, according to Trappier.

The Falcon 10X, which features a 119-in.-wide cabin, is currently on the drawing board with late 2025 as the goal for entry into service.

Asked about the 7,500-nm range, which is slightly less than the competing Bombardier Global 7500’s range of 7,700 nm, Trappier explained it was a tradeoff but hinted at an improvement. “We thought in terms of city pairs and found 7,500 nm to be suitable.” Passenger comfort was a priority, and that range is the result of a compromise in the design. “It is a performance target, so we will see during the course of the development whether we do better,” Trappier said with a smile.

The Falcon 10X program has been the basis for a recent renovation of Dassault’s composite-material component factory in Biarritz, France, where the 10X’s new composite wing panels will be manufactured. In Bordeaux Martignas, France, a new building will be erected for assembly of the wing.

And in Istres, France, a new building will house the Falcon 10X cockpit integration work by Dassault engineers with their counterparts from Honeywell.

The Falcon 10X program also is supposed to benefit from moving part of Dassault’s design and support offices to Bordeaux Merignac from Saint-Cloud in the Paris area. The new offices, near the final assembly line, will opened in the coming weeks. The idea is to bring engineers closer to aircraft production and flight testing, Trappier explained.

Dassault’s revenues stood at €3.1 billion ($3.7 billion) and net profit at €265 million in the first half. The profit margin therefore increased to 8.5%, from 3.3%. “We are approaching [pre-COVID] numbers. We are not there yet but we are in a better shape than last year,” Trappier added. 

Thierry Dubois

Thierry Dubois has specialized in aerospace journalism since 1997. An engineer in fluid dynamics from Toulouse-based Enseeiht, he covers the French commercial aviation, defense and space industries. His expertise extends to all things technology in Europe. Thierry is also the editor-in-chief of Aviation Week’s ShowNews.