NBAA: Dassault has a year of highs and lows

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Dassault Aviation is having a year of highs and lows - it will deliver a record number of Falcon business jets in 2010, but its orderbook continues to take a battering.

Chief executive Charles Edelstenne said at an NBAA press conference this morning that the French manufacturer has delivered 67 aircraft in the first three quarters and is on track to shift another 18 by year end.

However, despite 34 new orders in the first nine months, there were 35 cancellations. Edelstenne said the "amazing backlog" enjoyed by the airframer at the start of the downturn "was not solid" and he predicts "another year" of modest sales after hundreds of defaults in 2009 and 2010.

On the plus side, India, Brazil and China remain "very active" markets and Edelstenne expects growth in business jet demand in these regions to be "a long-term trend." Even in the mature North American market, there is a "higher level of confidence," he said.

Progress on Dassault's new "baby jet" - the medium-size SMS project - is "going at full speed" and aerodynamic configurations have been frozen.

Risk-sharing partners have been selected and are working on the design at Dassault's St. Cloud facility near Paris.

The company's latest variant - the 900LX trijet - was certificated earlier this year and the first aircraft has been delivered to a North American customer.