Dassault Aviation SA (AM), the maker of Rafale combat planes, introduced a business jet that features a taller cabin for extra comfort to help it compete with long-range Gulfstream Aerospace and Bombardier Inc. (BBD/B) models.
The Falcon 5X will seat as many as 16 and has a typical range of 5,200 nautical miles, linking Los Angeles with London or Paris with Beijing, Paris-based Dassault Aviation said yesterday at the annual National Business Aviation Association meeting in Las Vegas. The jet will retail for $45 million.
The cabin will measure six-and-a-half feet at its highest point, the tallest for aircraft made specifically for business aviation, and the cross section will be the widest, said John Rosanvallon, the president of Dassault Falcon Jet. The jet will have more cabin area than the larger current Falcon 7X flagship that can span 6,000 nautical miles, and will compete with the Gulfstream G450 and Bombardier’s Global 5000, he said.
“We’re starting a whole new generation of cabin,” Rosanvallon said in Las Vegas. “This market segment in the 5,000 nautical mile range, mid-40s in terms of price and new, much more comfortable cabin was a segment that really needed some attention.”
The 5X, which is scheduled for first flight in 2015, reflects the change in the business-jet market after the last recession, with companies seeking to fly farther in roomier planes. Deliveries for large-cabin aircraft will grow more than 10 percent this year, while smaller jets will decline, according to a Honeywell International Inc. (HON:US) survey.
Dassault had begun designing a smaller aircraft before the recession and scrapped it in favor a larger jet to meet demand, Rosanvallon said. Dassault expects to receive regulatory approval for the jet in 2016 ahead of first customer hand-overs in 2017. Three planes will be involved in flight trials.
“We believe passengers will simply love this cabin and the capability of this airplane,” said Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, during a mock-up presentation of the plane in Las Vegas. The aircraft “will occupy a sweet spot in terms of long-range capability and operational flexibility,” he said.
Dassault shares advanced 0.3 percent to 903 euros at 9 a.m. in Paris. The stock has risen 21 percent this year, valuing the planemaker in which Airbus SAS parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. holds a 46 percent stake, at 9.2 billion euros ($12.6 billion).
The company has tapped Safran SA (SAF)’s Snecma unit to provide the two Silvercrest engines also being used by the Citation Longitude in development for Textron Inc. (TXT:US)’s Cessna unit. With improved aerodynamics and engines, the Falcon 5X will burn 50 percent less fuel than rivals, Dassault said.
Honeywell will be Dassault’s avionics provider on the 5X, with a turbulence-detecting radar for smoother flying. The jet will include a head-up display, built by Israel’s Elbit Systems Ltd. (ESLT), that can blend infra-red images and digitally stored data to aid pilots flying in poor visibility.
The plane fits between the longer-range 7X and the 900LX, which typically has a range of 4,750 nautical miles, and isn’t expected to take away sales from either of those models, Rosanvallon said. A new airplane such as the 5X should have a product life of 25 to 30 years and sales of more than 500 aircraft, he said.
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