Kate Sarsfield/LONDON Ramon Lopez/WASHINGTON DC

Dassault Aviation has joined the rush for orders from the burgeoning fractional- ownership market by agreeing a deal with Executive Jet Aviation to supply up to 24 Falcon 2000 business jets for its Netjets programme.

The French aircraft manufacturer has not disclosed details of the transaction, but an industry source says: "EJA will purchase a significant number of Dassault Falcon 2000s for its Netjets programme."

A formal announcement, including the specifics of the deal, is expected by the end of the year, with the first delivery following quickly in 1998.

Dassault is almost the last of the major corporate-jet manufacturers to have entered the fractional-ownership market in some form. Most recently, Boeing Business Jets formed a joint venture with EJA, selling about five of its BBJs.

Only Israeli manufacturer Galaxy Aerospace has yet to join the fray. President Brian Barents concedes that the company has been talking about setting up a programme for its new Galaxy business jet once production of the aircraft builds up to a reasonable level. The transcontinental widebody Falcon 2000 joins Cessna, Gulfstream and Raytheon business jets in various programmes which are run by EJA.

The Montvale, New Jersey-based operator, which pioneered fractional ownership in the USA and Europe, is planning to launch programmes in the Middle East "before the end of the year".

Richard Santulli, EJA's chairman and chief executive, has also forecast a Far East launch within 12 months, but is waiting to gain authority to fly inside China. "We are confident of obtaining a final deal within 90 days," he says.

Source: Flight International