Ramping up MRO Support: Dassault’s Story

As Dassault Aviation prepares to deliver its latest business jet, the Falcon 6X, the manufacturer is looking to the future of MRO, with a range of efforts underway in maintenance, training, spare parts provision and beyond. Gerrard Cowan spoke with Dassault’s Geoff Chick to find out more…

Gerrard Cowan  |  01st March 2022
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    Gerrard Cowan
    Gerrard Cowan

    Gerrard Cowan is a freelance journalist who focuses on aerospace and finance. In addition to his regular...

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    Two mechanics work on a new-build Dassault Falcon Jet

    With 2022 promising some significant developments for Dassault, what is the private jet OEM doing to enhance its MRO service offerings to meet those developments, and enhance customer aftermarket support? Geoff Chick discusses the plan.

    Dassault Aviation is aiming for certification of the ultra-widebody jet by the end of this year, and three pre-production aircraft are currently flying, with the flight test organization having completed more than 150 flights comprising about 500 hours. Moves are also in progress to prepare for the MRO support of this new jet.

    The aircraft recently operated for several days from Le Bourget to evaluate performance under typical user conditions; this was conducted by flight crews from Dassault’s Operational Pilot Group, which supports flight departments and other customers.

    In Q1 2022, the fourth 6X aircraft – equipped with a full interior – will make an around-the-world tour, aimed at evaluating the platform in real operations and providing access to MRO facilities in the Dassault global network.

    “We have been preparing for years for service entry, and these are the final steps,” says Geoff Chick (pictured left), Dassault’s Senior Vice President, Worldwide Service Network.

    The French airframer is focusing its preparations on different levels. It has been developing technical training, Chick says, embedding its technicians with the Falcon 6X flight team in Istres, France. It has also serviced the 6X at Dassault Falcon Service (DFS) facilities at Le Bourget “just as any certified aircraft,” he said, including fuelling it with sustainable aviation fuel.

    Dassault has coordinated the tooling and ground support requirements for the aircraft, Chick adds, while it is defining support requirements in areas such as Aircraft on Ground (AOG) services and line and base maintenance, with a focus on meeting requirements by region.

    “We’re also already distributing spare parts around our network to support the 6X,” Chick highlights. Service technicians from TAG Maintenance Services and Dassault Falcon Service have now worked with the new aircraft in the Istres flight test center, with the aim of communicating the lessons learned with their own MRO centers, and beyond.

    Existing Aircraft Support

    While the Falcon 6X will be the latest entrant to a successful line of Dassault private jets, the French OEM is also looking to further optimize the support it provides to its existing aircraft, with more than 2,000 Falcon jets in use around the world.

    “You should expect to look to Dassault Aviation for upgrades that keep your aircraft up to date and able to operate in a modern air traffic control system,” Chick explains. 

    This means providing flight deck upgrades along with new capabilities for existing cabins, such as satellite communications (satcom) and in-flight entertainment systems.

    “We constantly take fleet age into consideration as we develop programs to keep each model in optimal condition,” Chick says. 

    “That’s very important when you consider that older Falcons – such as early Falcon 900s, first delivered in 1984 – still represent incredible efficiency and capability within their segments.”

    MRO Network Development

    Dassault’s main focus is to “respond to the specific needs of our growing and increasingly globalized fleet”, Chick says. In 2019, it took a number of steps to expand its service capacity, aiming to “stay ahead of fleet growth and to fill in the map with factory service locations”.

    This expansion included acquiring ExecuJet MRO Services, TAG Maintenance Services and the Business Aviation operations of RUAG in Switzerland. These acquisitions mean now has 40 factory service locations and more than 60 service center locations when authorized facilities are included, Chick notes.

    “We’re sharing Falcon expertise across this network, allowing us, for example, to start offering major C-check inspections in Kuala Lumpur, Perth, Sydney and Dubai for the first time,” he highlights. “Customers are delighted to have this level of service within their regions.”

    The focus is now on organic growth, “investing in the service network we have to build modern new facilities and upgrade capabilities”. For example, Dassault is building a new and larger replacement facility in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to provide more capacity and expertise for current and new aircraft. This includes the Falcon 6X and the under-development Falcon 10X.

    Beyond this, it is building a new facility in Dubai and expanding its operation in Reno, Nevada in the US. According to Chick, customers appreciate the company’s new, centralized sales and planning team for facilities in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

    “This ‘single front door’ approach to scheduling service makes life easier and more efficient for our customers,” Chick adds.

    This is part of a second phase of Dassault’s MRO expansion, following the acquisitions. The aim is to make its global network more integrated, with heavy maintenance expertise shared around the world.

    The company’s MRO ‘Go-Teams’ are available in more places, providing a higher level of service and more flexibility. For example, ExecuJet MRO Services Malaysia conducted its first Falcon C-check inspection – for a Falcon 2000LXS – in the first half of 2021.

    This effort involved experts from DFS in France, while TAG Maintenance Services in Geneva sent two technicians to assist. A DFS structural engineer in India also provided advice for the effort.

    As it looks to the future of MRO, Dassault will continue to support operators of its older aircraft, Chick stresses. He points to the Falcon 7X, early versions of which are now 15 years old.

    The company is “preparing options for their operators as they start thinking about their major 2C-check which will start to become due in 2023”, he concludes. “We stay ahead of the planning curve, so we are ready to support Falcons new and old.”

    More information from www.dassaultfalcon.com

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