Dassault Falcon Asia Pacific president Jean Michel Jacob says he is heading to the 2019 Australian International Airshow upbeat about the prospects for orders from local customers.
In particular, Jacob is hoping to land a first order for the company’s flagship Falcon 8X. The 8X is the newest member of the Falcon family of business jets and designed to enable non-stop flights such as Sydney-Mumbai, Hong Kong-London or Beijing-Los Angeles.
The aircraft entered service in 2016 and was on display at the Avalon Airshow in 2017. And while there is yet to be an Australian customer for the flagship business jet, Jacob said he was confident the first sale was not far away.
“We have not yet closed one deal but we are getting very close to finalising a few deals in Australia for the 8X,” Jacob said.
“We have a lot of interest in our Falcon 8X and 7X and we hope to do some deals within the next few weeks and months in this very specific part of the world.”
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 will have the Falcon 8X at the airshow alongside a Falcon 2000LXS.
Meanwhile, Jacob said there had been a strong response in the Asia Pacific to the company’s in-development Falcon 6X, which was launched in February 2018.
“In South East Asia, we see people having a strong interest in the cabin. You can carry people comfortably in a wide, tall and long cabin and you can get to Europe one stop or to many places one stop,” Jacob said.
“The market reacted well.”
The decision to launch the Falcon 6X came shortly after the company cancelled its 5X program in mid-December 2017 due to engine delays.
From Sydney, the 6X’s 5,500nm range opens up a 500nm swath of the eastern Indian subcontinent and central/northern China. From Perth, it means non-stop flights to the Gulf and a large proportion of eastern Africa, as well as substantial penetration into central Asia.
The cabin, at 1.98m high and 2.58m wide, is designed to seat up to 16 passengers in three separate lounge areas.
In October 2018, Dassault said it had completed the preliminary design and entered the detailed design phase for the Falcon 6X, with first flight slated for 2021. Jacob said program was progressing on schedule.
In January, Dassault announced it had bought business aviation company Execujet’s worldwide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations.
The deal covered facilities in 42 countries across the Asia Pacific, Oceania, the Middle East and Africa. In this part of the world, this included Execujet’s base at Melbourne Essendon Airport, which offers MRO services under an Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Certificate of Approval and New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval. It is also a United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 145 Repair Station.
ExecuJet also conducts maintenance work at its Sydney and Perth facilities.
Jacob said the deal would strengthen Dassault’s MRO network and improve the customer experience of operators of its aircraft.
“We don’t want our customers to be disappointed. They need the aircraft available; they need the aircraft overhauled fast; they need to be supported at any moment and that’s what counts most,” Jacob said.
“A happy customer might be a long-term customer.”
Jacob said there were 12 Falcon business jets based in the South Pacific region.