In the latest instalment of FINN’s From The Top programme, we talk to Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, about the Rafale programme, the business aviation market and what’s keeping him awake at night.

Dassault, based in France, is one of the leading manufacturers in Europe. The company started out in defence before expanding into business aviation too.

On the Rafale programme within Dassault, Trappier said: “Our main target was the satisfaction of the French Armed Forces, which is done. They are more than happy with the Rafale.”

He added: “We are ready to upgrade the Rafale. Every four or five years we have a new standard with new requirements, based on the [feedback] of the ops guys, in order to improve and increase the capabilities. We are going to deliver what we call the F3…and we are preparing to enter into contract for the next one, the F4.”

Business aviation 

In business aviation, Dassault has its Falcon programme. Trappier noted: “We are the only [company] worldwide to address business jets as well as fighters.

“We have a company which is totally devoted to the military side as well as the Falcon side, so we have the same design of these, the same factories able to address either the military side or the Falcon side. That gives us a big advantage.”

He added: “For example the flight control system, which was originally for our fighters, was totally derived to fit with our Falcon and this gives our Falcon a much bigger capability. At the same time, we have a new way of manufacturing our Falcon and the military side gains benefit from these new capabilities, with the digital tools and so on.”

On the business aviation market, Trappier commented: “The Falcon business has been flat for a long time. Last year, we announced that we saw a new tendency of growth in the business jet market [and that] is the case this year – there is a slight improvement in the outlook and also the market for second-hand Falcons is getting better, so we feel that now we are really in the recovery time for this business.”

He added: “The economy is going well in the US, it’s going well in north of Europe, and should grow more in Asia. In Africa also, we see new countries and new customers, so we are more than confident that we should sell more of our Falcon in the coming months and years.”

Falcon 5X

One question we ask all From The Top CEOs: What’s keeping you awake at night?

Trappier said sleepless nights are largely a thing of the past.

He explained: “You remember we had this 5X programme and the engine didn’t comply with our operational requirements and the schedule, so I had to cancel the programme. Up to the moment I did it, that was not so easy to know how to do it. It’s done. Now my nights are totally nice and I have no problems. I have new challenges – there is a 6X, for example, with a new engine that is supposed to be operational in 2022.

“We are launching a new programme, also for the Falcon, to prepare [for] the future.”

He concluded: “There are many challenges but challenges is the life of a CEO and the life of the company.”

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