chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, Eric TrappierImage. Image: Dassault
The chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, Eric Trappier, has offered his insight into the current business aviation market and an update on Dassault during EBACE in Geneva.
“Last year, I expressed the collective shock and concern we feel for the plight of the Ukrainian people. The war continues to rage, reminding us how fragile peace really is, and of our responsibility to work toward a stable and just peace—particularly by maintaining our defense capabilities.
France has always been particularly vigilant in sustaining the know-how needed to design and produce high-level defence equipment. A prime example is the Rafale fighter, which is highly valued not only by the French Air Force and Navy, but also by the other Air Forces who have selected it for their own requirements.
Another token of our company’s military expertise is its leadership role in the development of the New Generation Fighter for Europe’s Future Combat Air System.
Before going on, I would like to acknowledge our dismay at the passing of EBAA’s secretary- general Athar Khan. Athar had many friends here at Dassault who greatly valued the leadership he showed within the business aviation community. His presence will be deeply missed.
I also want to recognise and thank our industry trade groups EBAA, NBAA and GAMA for their tireless efforts in defending the business aviation industry. They serve as a valuable firewall against the unfair and sometimes hostile proposals targeting business aviation. And they serve to remind the public that business aviation is helping to address climate change through the use of Synthetic Aviation Fuel and other initiatives, and is working hard to reach a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
This year we are celebrating the 60th anniversary year of the Dassault business jet brand.
Our first business jet, the Falcon 20 (originally the Mystère 20), made its first flight on May 4, 1963. Many of these beautifully designed and robust aircraft are still flying today.
The first customer was Pan American Airlines, which gave us instant credibility in the US market and led to even more sales success.
We are also celebrating 60 years of pioneering advances in civil aviation, many driven by technologies from our fighter programmes.
Indeed, we can claim a long string of industry firsts. We developed the first Head-Up Display on a business jet, a feat that led over time to our remarkable Combined Vision System.
We also pioneered in Digital Flight Control Systems and Digital Design, through our use of Dassault Systèmes CATIA CAD/CAM software.
Our pride in these past accomplishments has only increased our appetite for innovation, paving the way for more in the decades to come.
2022 was a good year for our industry based on orders received. Dassault sold 64 aircraft, despite the cancellation of Russian orders, and significantly increased its order book. However, this growth spurt, related to the Covid episode, started to slow down during the last quarter of 2022 with a continued slowdown in the first half of this year.
Our company, like most others in the industry, is still encountering problems with the supply chain. Although we are attempting to address the issue with closer surveillance of supplier production.
The situation has affected aircraft development and production as we ramp up to meet future commitments, and has impacted support as well, which I will come back to later.
Let me now talk about current developments in programmes.
The Falcon 6X has successfully completed its flight test campaign. We have submitted all documentation to certification authorities and expect a Type Certificate to be granted by EASA in the coming weeks, paving the way for entry into service.
The first 6X simulator has been qualified and the first class of customer pilots will enter training soon.
Meanwhile, our MRO network is preparing for service entry, ensuring support teams are in place and parts are fully available. We have formed an integrated group called Team 1 to manage these activities. All the ingredients are now in place to achieve a smooth and successful entry into service.
Development of our new ultra long-range 10X is also moving forward.
As I’ve said before, this aircraft will feature the most comfortable and spacious cabin in the ultra long-range segment, and its performance capabilities will be unmatched. A full-scale mock-up is at our booth. I invite you to visit it and see for yourself how the 10X redefines the very concept of cabin spaciousness.
Testing of systems has begun, employing multiple test benches—in Istres, Mérignac and Saint Cloud.
Test results from the aircaft’s Rolls Royce Pearl 10X engine have also been extremely positive. We should have a powerplant installed on a flying test bench later this year. This engine is designed to be 100-percent SAF-capable.As always, Dassault is placing great emphasis on ensuring the elegant design of its new models, particularly the interiors. The 6X and 10X cabins will take elegance, comfort and passenger productivity to entirely new level of excellence
The interiors of both aircraft have received prestigious design awards from the world’s leading industrial design firms among them, the Red Dot award for the 6X and the 10X, and the Good Design award for the 10X.
We’re also continuing to keep our current fleet up to date so our customers can benefit from the most advanced capabilities available.
Wi-Fi and hi-speed internet connectivity are now widespread throughout the fleet for instance, and more than 200 aircraft have been upgraded to our unique FalconConnect inflight connectivity system.
The latest generation of our EASy flight deck, EASy IV, is now available as an upgrade on the Falcon 7X and 8X fleet. And it comes standard with new 8X and 6X aircraft.
Our global customer service footprint continues to grow and improve in quality after overcoming some early teething problems—even as we deal with the new supply chain constraints I mentioned earlier.
Last year, we struggled to integrate new ERP software which was designed to improve worldwide spares management and provide more services to our customers.
We committed to having this issue resolved by the first quarter of this year—and I am happy to report that this goal has been achieved. Now, however, we find ourselves in the reverse situation: the software is working well but spares are more difficult to obtain. Admittedly, the impact on our customers is the same, but I can assure you that we are working hard to find a solution for each case—doing whatever it takes!
Now, a word on developments in our Maintenance Repair and Overhaul service network. Last year, we announced additional investments in the network, with large, modern, new facilities set to open in Malaysia, Dubai and Melbourne, Florida. Our new service centre in Dubai is opening this month; the facility in Kuala Lumpur will open next year and Melbourne, US in early 2025.
Thanks to these new additions, we will be in a position to offer Falcon service from Melbourne, Florida, to Melbourne, Australia. With 40 factory service centres and 21 authorised facilities, our coverage is now truly global, with support teams and parts ready to dispatch wherever they are needed.
Finally, let me address some important environmental issues.
Lately, business jet bashing has been a bit of a sport in Europe. Our best defence, as always, is to demonstrate that we are embracing emissions-reducing targets.
In the near term, Sustainable Aviation Fuel is the best solution to reducing CO2 emissions.
Dassault now offers SAF at our flagship FBO at Le Bourget and at our completion and service center in Little Rock, Arkansas. All our flights are performed with a blend of 30% SAF, which exceeds by far the requirements of the European Union ReFuel initiative. Our customers are also using SAF, where it’s available.
Another viable way to reduce carbon emissions while saving money is by optimizing aircraft operations.
That’s why we are working to introduce an innovative, digital flight management tool to reduce fuel consumption, optimise fuel load, and thus lower emissions.
We have named this tool FalconWays.
FalconWays uses a worldwide database of wind patterns to identify routes that optimise fuel consumption. The farther the mission, the more savings possible. In real-world testing, we have found we could reduce emissions by a significant percentage.
This unique tool is being developed entirely within Dassault and we are very proud of the young engineers who championed this intelligent solution and are making it happen.
We expect FalconWays to become a cost-saving emissions reduction tool operators around the world will welcome.
And we are confident this and the other emissions savings measures we are undertaking, such as the use of SAF, the introduction of more efficient engines and new aircraft models, will make a significant difference.
Decarbonisation of our industry will be possible only on a step-by-step basis.
Currently, the taxonomy process being discussed by the European Commission is attempting to determine which industries are green and can be considered sustainable investments.
Additional taxonomy incentives could help serve as a basis for decarbonising the whole aviation industry. Unfortunately, at this stage, business aviation has been excluded from the process.
My personal opinion is that this is patently unfair, politicised, and simply unsupported by the facts. Business aviation renders immense services to the global economy and is leading the way in adopting green strategies like the use of SAF.
Excluding business aviation sends the wrong message and may exclude it from decarbonisation in Europe, with significant impacts on operators, MROs and airports alike.
I do hope that the European Commission will change its mind and allow OEMs, suppliers and other business aviation firms in helping decarbonise the economy.
I can’t overstress the seriousness of the environmental issue and encourage everyone in our industry to show solidarity and work towards making every initiative available part of the overall solution.