Dassault says progress of its new Falcon 5X business jet is going well, with the first flight still on track for early 2015.

The maiden flight of the new twin-engined type will take place “about one year from now,” says Jean Rosanvallon, president and chief executive of Dassault Falcon. Rosanvallon spoke to Flightglobal at last week’s ABACE show in Shanghai.

The aircraft is “far along the production process” and the company plans to make announcements about the type’s progress at the EBACE business jet gathering in Geneva that runs from 20 to 22 May, says Rosanvallon.

“The 5X is creating a new market segment,” he adds. “It is always tempting to go directly after the Gulfstream 650, but we really felt the market needs a very modern, efficient 5000nm plane. (With the 5X) you can go almost anywhere in the world with one stop in a comfortable cabin. The market reaction is very positive.”

The company hopes to certify the new type in 2016, followed by a first delivery in 2017.

It is discussing the 5X with Chinese lessors for long term orders, but has yet to secure any buyers for the type on the Mainland.

“Ninety per cent of buyers in China are first time buyers,” says Rossanvallon. “If they buy a plane, they want it in less than a year. The lead time for the 5X is more than four years. If you have no airplane now, they don’t want to wait that long. People placing advance orders are more in developed markets.”

Dassault’s biggest seller in China is the Falcon 7X. According to consulting firm Asian Sky Group, there are 31 Dassault private jets in Greater China, for a 9% market share. Of these, 15 jets were added in 2013 alone.

The Dassault fleet in Greater China comprises 22 7Xs (of which 11 were delivered in 2013), four 900LXs, three F2000LXs, one F900DX, and one F900EX.

Separately, Rosanvallon expressed scepticism about the prospect that the industry will ever develop a supersonic private jet.

“The big hurdle is not technology. We build Mach 2 military aircraft and new technology can reduce sonic booms. There are lot of things you can do now that you couldn’t do at the time of the Concorde, and there are enough billionaires in the world who would find it nice to have a special thing.”

He says that flying from New York to Paris with a supersonic business jet would burn three times as much fuel as Falcon 7X, but provide a smaller cabin.

“Who can justify that that these three hours are so important that he’ll produce emissions three times a normal business jet?” asks Rosanvallon.

Source: FlightGlobal.com