Dassault: Chinese Business Jet Market Is ‘Waking Up’

Dassault Aviation recently showcased its flagship Falcon 8X  at ABACE 2017 in Shanghai, and if the success of the 7X in China is any indication, the 8X should do quite well in this market. Dassault already has one 8X under contract with a Chinese customer, according to Jean-Michel Jacob, president of Falcon Asia-Pacific. “Prospects [for the 8X in China] look extremely good,” he said. “And there are many negotiations in progress already.”

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Dassault’s Falcon 8X is a bit longer—and in many ways, much better—than its wildly popular predecessor.

In China, the market for business jets “is waking up,” said Jacob. “It was quiet for the last two years, but now there is some real movement. Not as good as five years ago, but certainly an active market. The driver is the economy of China. China is getting bigger and more global, and its investments are located far away.”

China is the second-largest market for the 7X, with 29 of the model currently in the country, although at one point nearly 40 Dassault 7Xs were in China. With a range of 6,450 nautical miles, the 8X can fly from Shanghai to much of the U.S., including Chicago; all of Europe; most of Africa; and all of Asia Pacific. “With one stop you can go to all of the places that you want,” said Carlos Brana, senior vice president of civil aircraft for Dassault Aviation.

“When you think of a given market, you try to meet the needs of the customer. The 8X can link the city pairs that the customer needs. [Our designs] are also based on technology. Most of us are engineers, and we manufacture a well-engineered airplane,” he added.

Asked whether political factors in China have affected the business aviation market, Brana expressed optimism. “Yes, two years ago the anti-corruption campaign affected sales of business jets. Now, people who need one buy one. It’s based on the requirements of the company, not the political aspect.”

Highlighting more than 100 years in business, Dassault Aviation noted that it has expanded its customer-service capabilities, growing the number of front-line representatives by 25 percent from 2010. Two Dassault maintenance engineers are based at authorized service center Shanghai Hawker Pacific Business Aviation Service Centre to serve China-based Falcon operators. At Beijing Capital Airport, Deer Jet provides line maintenance services for Falcons and is applying to become a U.S. FAA-approved repair station, which it plans to achieve by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, according to Kathy Liu, director of customer service for the Asia Pacific region, Dassault’s Beijing spares depot stocks more than 3,000 parts worth more than $6 million, and parts can be retrieved from its bonded warehouse in just two hours.

Dassault is working on offering FalconResponse flights to deliver parts and technicians to AOG (aircraft-on-ground) Falcon jets in Asia, Liu added. The company bases a Falcon 900 in the U.S. and one in Europe for FalconResponse flights. In Asia, Global Jet operates a Falcon 2000 that can be used to assist Dassault customers. So far, that jet has completed just one trip.

To serve 8X customers, Dassault has been training customer-service representatives and technicians and recertifying authorized service centers for 8X maintenance, as well as adding 8X parts at the Beijing depot. “From the customer-support side, we’re ready for the 8X,” said Liu.

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