Dassault Aviation is a major manufacturer of both civil and military aircraft – and one of France’s big, homegrown aviation companies. And it’s certainly giving everyone much to talk about at the moment: Increased sales of its Rafale military fighters; the first flight of its Falcon 8X business jet; a visit from the French President; and changes in its ownership structure. On April 8th, Dassault Aviation invited PrivateFly and other BACA (Baltic Air Charter Association) members to learn more about the manufacturer and its fleet – and for an exciting peek at the new Falcon 5X in production. Here’s a report from our Senior Flight Advisor.
Many people associate Dassault specifically with its Bordeaux-Merignac base, as this is where its final flight testing takes place, such as for the Falcon 8X. This is where I visited, along with another site at Martignas sur Jalles. But in fact, Dassault has a number of different sites across France – and elsewhere in the world. The company’s corporate headquarters are based in Paris, in Hauts-de-Seine. But other French provinces benefit economically from the building and construction of its aircrafts’ different elements. Each site has its own speciality, such as assembly of the fuselage, wing manufacture, and producing flight control systems (Find out more about the stages of development of a private jet).
The aviation industry is a global one and Dassault also has offices and bases outside of France. Most notably in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. It’s in Little Rock that the development of the cabin interiors takes place. Once final flight testing has taken place on a new aircraft in Merignac, it is flown to Arkansas for its interior to be fitted out.
Dassault is also developing its business in the growing Asian market. It now has several offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi. The company is currently exhibiting at ABACE (Asia’s major business aviation conference), focussing on boosting sales of the Falcon 7X business jet in the region. China is the biggest business aviation market in Asia and Dassault has just signed an agreement with one of the biggest Asian operators, Deer Jet, for maintenance of the Falcon 7X.
Dassault launched its first Falcon jet in 1963, the Falcon 20. And the Falcons are now its flagship private jet family. The first Falcon, the Falcon 20, was notably used by the US Coast Guard who at the time ordered customised versions. These early models are no longer manufactured, and have been replaced by new, more efficient models.
The Falcon 7X is the most recent model. A long range jet noted for its advanced technology and range, it can fly nonstop from Paris to Los Angeles. The new Falcon 8X is on target to achieve certification in early 2016, with deliveries to buyers starting in the second half of the year.
And it was particularly exciting for me to see one of three Falcon 5Xs in manufacture. The 5X is the smaller brother of the Falcon 7X, still capable of long range flight, but also able to fly in and out of challenging airports like London City. The Falcon 5X is scheduled for its first flight tests later this year. We’ll be watching closely. To charter a Falcon jet or to discuss which aircraft is best for your flight, contact us.