Dassault Aviation is pitching its Falcon 7X and 8X tri-jets as the best solution for the Australian Government’s Special Purpose Aircraft (SPA) fleet.
The France-based airframer has brought its flagship 8X to the Australian International Airshow at Avalon, the first time the aircraft has been on display in this part of the world.
And Dassault Falcon Asia Pacific president Jean Michel Jacob said Avalon was a great opportunity to showcase the brand-new Falcon 8X capabilities to the local market, noting its smooth entry into service and positive feedback from customers.
“It comes at the right time to promote this aircraft to both the government and private customers,” Jacob said at Avalon on Tuesday.
The company has two aircraft at Avalon 2017, with a Falcon 2000LXS on display alongside the Falcon 8X. Although this was down from the three aircraft in 2015, there was clear star power in having the Falcon 8X Down Under so soon after first delivery in October 2016.
The Falcon 8X is an update of the Falcon 7X and designed to enable non-stop flights such as Sydney-Mumbai, Hong Kong-London or Beijing-Los Angeles, or one-stop from Sydney to New York or London.
With a cabin length of 13 metres, the Falcon 8X is capable of flying eight passengers and three crew 6,450nm at a speed of 0.8 Mach. Further, the cabin could be configured up to 30 different ways, including the potential to install a shower in the lavatory.
Dassault has delivered 15 Falcon 8X aircraft so far, with the aircraft now operating in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. But not Australia.
That could change pending the Australian Government’s thinking about the future of its Special Purpose Aircraft (SPA) fleet.
Currently, the Royal Australian Air Force’s 34 Squadron operates two leased Boeing Business Jets (specially configured Boeing 737s) and three Bombardier Challenger 604 aircraft from Fairbairn Defence Establishment at Canberra Airport.
The Australian Government issued a request for proposal in November 2015 entitled “Replacement Special Purpose Aircraft (SPA) Transport Service – Managing Contractor” which closed in February 2016.
Jacob said Dassault had pitched the Falcon 8X and 7X as the ideal solution to the Commonwealth’s needs.
“In my own opinion we think that our aircraft would be a perfect aircraft for the government,” Jacob said.
“It satisfies most of the requirements that the tender showed a few months ago, which is to go to most airfields in Australia, even the more challenging airfields.
“I’m talking specifically about 7X and 8X.”
Jacob noted the three-engine design of the Falcon 7X and 8X offered advantages for long over-water flights. For instance, on Melbourne-Santiago the Falcon 8X had a 1,000-mile shorter flight distance than comparable twin-engine business jets, he said.
In October 2016, Defence confirmed one of the two additional Airbus A330‑200s being converted into KC-30A tanker transports for the RAAF would be modified with a VIP interior to support long-range government transport needs.
Meanwhile, Jacob said Dassault’s installed fleet in Australia stood at 15 aircraft, with the most recent delivery taking place in the week prior to Avalon. The figure is up from 10 in the 2016 register of business jets in Australia and New Zealand in the December edition of Australian Aviation.
In terms of local conditions, Jacob said he had noticed a pickup in activity since the start of 2017.
“The market is getting more active now than it was last year,” Jacob said.