Dassault Aviation Dassault 1986-2000 - Changing Markets
Dassault Aviation is one of the few aviation companies worldwide to combine civil and military business using the same workforces. This allows it to give business aircraft the benefit of the advanced technologies used on combat aircraft (design analysis, aerodynamic designs, flight control systems, composite materials, head-up display, etc.). The Company has targeted the top-of-the-range market segment, where its high level technology can be best capitalized upon. There are fewer competitors in this segment as the technological and financial barriers are too high.
The launching of the Falcon 2000 and new versions, the Falcon 900EX and Falcon 50EX, have allowed Dassault Aviation to meet demands. As military business is cyclic, it is essential to spread risks by taking on diversified business in the company's range of expertise. The aim of this is to retain and improve on its Falcon market share by reinforcing its competitive gap, notably by shortening manufacturing cycles without for all that being left with stocks of unsold aircraft. To prepare for the way ahead in the civil field, the company has striven to define a program of demonstration of new principles providing very significant reductions in costs for a given level of performance: thermoplastic fuselage, new wing, etc.
With the worldwide boom in the business aircraft market, it became apparent that there was a need to rethink the organization of the Falcon aircraft sector. Falcon Jet Corporation, Dassault Aviation's US subsidiary, became Dassault Falcon Jet. This change in name ratified an operational and structural change in Dassault Aviation's business jet aircraft branch in terms of the unification and globalization of business activities. The Little Rock site was modernized over the period 1996-1998. Its surface area doubled and the site now includes seven additional buildings including a reception building provided with office space for customers. This enlargement has improved the organization of the Falcon aircraft customization process which has increased its production capacity to 60 aircraft a year while improving quality. In 2000, it was the largest Dassault Aviation site worldwide.
The sales in business aircraft, buoyed by the US growth, reached an exceptional level from 1997 onwards. In 1999, sales of Falcon aircraft accounted for 68% of the company's turnover and 55% of its order book.
The economic situation of western countries and the upheavals undergone in political balances of power have considerably changed the industrial landscape of the world's defense aviation industry. Changes in the international context have affected the production of combat aircraft worldwide which fell from 1,800 a year (excluding the USSR and China) in 1975 to some 300 aircraft in 1993. 3000 combat aircraft are due to be replaced between 2000 and 2010. The increase in the complexity of weapon systems means that in future, no European country will have the ability to finance a new combat aircraft program on its own. Rafale's successor will thus be European.