Dassault has returned to the Dubai air show to showcase its two latest tri-engined Falcon business jets and to drum up sales in its high-end product line from the region’s owner and operator communities.
The flagship 8X, which entered service in October 2016, is displayed alongside the latest version of the Falcon 900LX. The 12-passenger aircraft was introduced late last year featuring a re-designed and improved cabin.
Eric Trappier, chairman of Dassault, says the 8X has generated considerable excitement since the first aircraft entered service in the Gulf earlier this year and he expects the region to play “a big role” in the aircraft’s success. “We also anticipate heavy demand for the 900LX,” he says. With its enhanced cabin it will be the “best buy in its [large-cabin] category for years to come”.
The Middle East has proved fertile territory for the French airframer for many years. The region has an installed base of about 70 Falcons, out of a global inventory of about 2,500, says Dassault, with the fleet doubling since 2012. However, the slowdown across many of the area’s economies has hit sales in the past couple of years, with some customers electing to cancel orders or delay their purchases. Carlos Brana, Dassault’s senior vice-president civil aircraft says while the market both here and internationally is soft, there are some encouraging signs. “We are seeing activity starting to pick up,” he says. “There are many more active enquiries, but people want to negotiate the best price. It’s still a buyer’s market.”
On a positive note, the global inventory of used Falcons has reduced drastically this year. “The stock of aircraft for sale is down to 7% of the active fleet,” says Brana. This is well below the 10% figure which is typically regarded as a healthy inventory.
Dassault’s in-production line-up also includes the 7X trijet and the super-midsize Falcon 2000LXS. Certification of the ultra-widebody 5X has been severely delayed due to development issues with its Safran Silvercrest engine.