Dassault Aviation's efforts to launch a supersonic business jet (SSBJ) programme are beginning to take shape, according to company officials.

The French company says that the study, which may be concluded this year, does not represent a commitment to a supersonic aircraft project, but Bruno Revellin-Falcoz, vice-president for research and engineering, says: "We have reached a set of designs, and in the first quarter of 1998 we will exchange ideas with potential customers."

While details on the design remain sketchy, Revellin-Falcoz envisions a Mach 1.8 aircraft most-likely powered by three non-afterburning engines derived from existing military or commercial turbofans. The eight-passenger aircraft, which would not be built before 2007, would be about the size of a Falcon 50EX. Revellin- Falcoz says that estimates for the development cost and aircraft price remain undetermined.

He says that Dassault Aviation would like to share the project with an industry partner, or even customers "with some experience in supersonic activities", says Revellin-Falcoz. Serge Dassault, the firm's chairman, sees a partnership with as many as two companies for SSBJ production.

Richard Santulli, Executive Jet Aviation chairman, says that it is his dream to operate SSBJs. "You can bet we would be the launch customers for a Falcon SST."

Source: Flight International