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OPINION: 6X promises much, but Dassault needs customer patience

Dassault hopes it has finally put the nightmare of its much-delayed and now axed 5X programme ­behind it. By launching a replacement version of the ultra-wide business jet, chief executive Éric Trappier says it will offer something even better.

On paper, the 6X doesn’t disappoint. It boasts a longer version of the 5X’s market-leading ultra-wide cabin and a modest range extension. This will give its owners big-cabin comfort on key routes, including the US west coast to Europe.

Critically, the 6X will be powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW812D – a version of the already certificated geared turbofans powering rival Gulfstream’s G500 and G600. This should help to minimise development costs and risk. Indeed, one way to look at the 5X is that, by choosing Safran’s unproven Silvercrest engine, Dassault gambled on a technological breakthrough and lost.

But whatever financial pay-off Dassault wins from ­Safran, it will not compensate for the wasted time. ­Instead of having a new model in service today, ready to take advantage of a market resurgence, Dassault is launching an aircraft that will not arrive until 2022.

Dassault is working on the assumption that its ­usually loyal clients are willing to wait. Trappier promises that the 6X will “give customers more for their money”. But he must cross his fingers that the 5X debacle will not prompt that money to move elsewhere.

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