Fal­con 8X is Better

Vadim Feldzer, the Head of Global Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Das­sault tells Ar­pita Kala of SP’s Avi­a­tion dur­ing Wings In­dia ‘18, all about the fate of Fal­con 5X and busts myths about Das­sault’s mys­te­ri­ous new air­craft. And about 6X, 7X and 8X.

SP's Aviation - - TABLE OF CONTENTS -

Rafale fighter jets and Fal­con 8X may just be the hot topic of the month, but Das­sault Avi­a­tion’s In­dia con­nect dates back to the era of Mi­rage 2000. “The truth is that Das­sault Avi­a­tion has had a re­la­tion­ship with In­dia long be­fore Gulf­stream was even born. We started our friend­ship in In­dia in 1985 by de­liv­er­ing Mi­rage air­craft to the In­dian Air Force. So, it’s a long term re­la­tion­ship be­tween our com­pany and your govern­ment,” says the com­pany’s head of global com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Vadim Feldzer.

And if you no­ticed the sub­tle shade towards their com­peti­tor, it’s all in good faith. As Feldzer says, “They have a good air­craft, but it’s all about what you can of­fer dif­fer­ently to the cus­tomer.” Show­cas­ing their ul­tra long range Fal­con 8X at the re­cently con­cluded avi­a­tion expo in Hyderabad, where the Gulf­stream G650ER was on dis­play too, Vadim spoke to us about the un­ex­pected demise of Fal­con 5X and the ques­tion on ev­ery­one’s mind – what’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween be­tween Fal­con 6X, 7X and 8X.

SP’s Avi­a­tion (SP’s): What ex­actly hap­pened with Fal­con 5X?

Vadim Feldzer (Feldzer): It’s very frus­trat­ing but very easy to un­der­stand. We launched Fal­con 5X back in 2013 at NBAA’s Busi­ness Avi­a­tion Con­ven­tion & Exhibition in Las Ve­gas. The 5X was cre­ated af­ter we looked very care­fully at the needs of the cus­tomers world­wide and found that the trend was defini­tively for a larger cabin. And, for the 5,000 nau­ti­cal miles seg­ment, there was no innovation to ful­fill this de­mand in the mar­ket. Gulf­stream came with G650, a very cool air­craft, but no­body re­ally came up with a fresh prod­uct. So, we de­cided to come up with 5X and to bring the biggest cabin in this seg­ment with the traditional flex­i­bil­ity, which is the DNA of the Fal­con brand.

To pro­duce this air­craft, we part­nered with Safran engines be­cause they came up with a prod­uct (Sil­ver­crest) that on pa­per was the best en­gine in the mar­ket in this cat­e­gory. So, we trusted Safran and de­signed our air­craft based on the Sil­ver­crest pro­posal while Safran also adapted the en­gine to our lat­est Fal­con.

So, it was a win-win part­ner­ship un­til they failed to de­liver be­cause in 2016, they an­nounced a three-year de­lay in the pro­gramme which was not only un­ac­cept­able to us, but our cus­tomers too. Still, con­sid­er­ing the prom­ise of the en­gine, we were pa­tient and con­tin­ued the part­ner­ship. How­ever, they came to us last fall with a new prob­lem in the core en­gine which would have taken even longer to solve...with no vis­i­bil­ity on the time it would take to cor­rect. So, we de­cided not to con­tinue since we had lost al­most half of our cus­tomers and even our rep­u­ta­tion in the mar­ket. Éric Trap­pier, our CEO, an­nounced the ter­mi­na­tion process of the 5X with Safran and we de­cided to launch a brand new air­plane, which hap­pened to be the Fal­con that was also an­nounced last week in Paris. Now with the Pratt & Whit­ney PW812D en­gine, the Fal­con 6X will ad­dress the same con­cerns in the mar­ket and defini­tively re­place it.

SP’s: What’s the USP of Das­sault Fal­con 8X?

Feldzer: The 8X is our new ul­tra long range air­craft at Das­sault. It is de­rived from the 7X, which has proven to be very pop­u­lar. We have sold more than 200 of those, so the 7X is the most pop­u­lar air­craft in Das­sault his­tory. The 8X is in­spired by that, but features more range, larger cabin, more com­fort and more ev­ery­thing. So, it will be a suc­cess­ful air­craft. It en­tered into ser­vice in the late 2016, but we re­ally started de­liv­er­ing the air­craft world­wide only last year and one of the first air­plane was de­liv­ered in In­dia...it is op­er­at­ing out of Delhi.

Typ­i­cally what makes our air­craft dif­fer­ent from the com­peti­tor... like if you com­pare the 8x with the G650, the lat­ter will have more range. But the 8X is a more ca­pa­ble air­craft es­pe­cially in terms of air­port per­for­mance. You’ll be able to fly on more chal­leng­ing air­ports, ac­tu­ally you will be able to fly al­most anywhere, be­cause the wing de­signs are op­ti­mised to cope with the slow speed ap­proach on short run­ways or in ad­verse con­di­tions such as al­ti­tude con­straints, hot rivers etc. So the Fal­con air­craft are a great as­set be­cause the 8X won’t fly as far as its com­peti­tor, but it will fly you to more des­ti­na­tions. So, that’s one of the key as­set of this air­craft. The three engines help you fly more di­rect routes be­cause we don’t have the ETOPS lim­i­ta­tions (Ex­tended-range Twin-en­gine Op­er­a­tional Per­for­mance Stan­dards). So, you can fly di­rectly over the ocean and save time as well as fuel.

Busi­ness avi­a­tion is all about pro­duc­tiv­ity and that means that the com­pany or cor­po­ra­tion can go di­rectly from point A to B with­out any con­straints. For in­stance, the 8X can fly to London City Air­port, which is the clos­est to the fi­nan­cial dis­trict in London. In fact all the Fal­cons qual­ify to op­er­ate in this air­port, which is not the case for our competitors. The G650 has to go to the Farnborough Air­port, which some­times with the traf­fic sit­u­a­tions is two hours away from the city. It’s all about agility and flex­i­bil­ity that we of­fer.

SP’s: Do you think time man­age­ment is a prob­lem in In­dia?

Feldzer: Busi­ness Avi­a­tion is all about valu­ing the time of your key peo­ple and Ger­man peo­ple have un­der­stood that. They pre­fer to pay for expensive travel rather than have their MVPs stuck in lounges in the mid­dle of nowhere wait­ing for a con­nect­ing flight. Well, the prob­lem in In­dia is all about slots, park­ing spa­ces... Char­ter ser­vices like Club One Air are provid- ing so­lu­tions to the high net worth pas­sen­gers, but some­times they are not get­ting slots to land or to get air­borne. We are all positive peo­ple and hope­fully things will change, but it takes time. Four years ago I was say­ing the same thing, it will change, we know that, but it will take time. But I’m sure it’s more frus­trat­ing for In­dian busi­ness avi­a­tion op­er­a­tors ...the lack of in­fra­struc­ture, park­ing spa­ces and more.

SP’s: When is the 9X com­ing up? And, are the talks about the 10X true?

Feldzer: We’ve never talked about ei­ther of them; but at the mo­ment it’s an ex­cit­ing time right now in Das­sault be­cause we are not work­ing or wast­ing resource on the 6X and at the same time we are work­ing on the new­comer. We have never said if it was a 9X or a 10X or re­leased any de­tails. Maybe it could even be a 2X. We aren’t con­firm­ing or deny­ing any­thing, we are just say­ing that the time will come for a great an­nounce­ment.

SP’s: What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween Fal­con 6X, 7X and 8X?

Feldzer: The easiest way to ex­plain it is that the num­ber of engines is the dif­fer­en­tia­tor. The 7X is a three-en­gine air­craft so is 8X and the 6X is twin-en­gine. In fact, we of­ten get asked if we would con­tinue pro­duc­ing the 7X be­cause it is close in terms of range. As the 6X has a max­i­mum range of 5,500nm while the 7X is 5,950nm, so there’s not a huge dif­fer­ence in the range. The 8X has a much longer range so there’s no com­pe­ti­tion with 6X at all.

You still have afi­ciona­dos for the iconic three-en­gine for­mula. Even in our Das­sault fam­ily, there are some cus­tomers who will never come for a twin en­gine be­cause they love the op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties, ETOPS fa­cil­ity that come with a tri-jet air­craft. So, ul­ti­mately the mar­ket will de­cide, but for now, we will con­tinue pro­duc­ing the 7X. We said the same thing when the 8X was launched too. For us, the 7X and 8X are two air­crafts with sep­a­rate abil­i­ties.

SP’s: What’s your take on ‘Make In In­dia’?

Feldzer: I am from the civil avi­a­tion side, but dur­ing the Rafale dis­cus­sion, Das­sault agreed to meet the ‘Make in In­dia’ re­quire­ment. We set up a joint ven­ture with Reliance and a new fa­cil­ity in Nag­pur that will start oper­a­tions be­fore the end of this year. This is a strate­gic de­ci­sion for Das­sault be­cause this fa­cil­ity will be in­cluded in our world­wide sup­ply chain too.

SP’s: Are you also work­ing on a su­per­sonic pro­gramme?

Feldzer: It will be very chal­leng­ing to de­sign an air­craft in this class with­out know­ing what will be en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions be­cause you can imag­ine that they will be very strin­gent. So, be­fore they are in place, Das­sault will not com­mit it­self to any pro­gramme de­ci­sion; but if there’s one com­pany that is ca­pa­ble of com­ing up with a su­per­sonic busi­ness jet it will be us be­cause of our cred­i­bil­ity and the fact that we know how to fly close to Mach one with all the Mi­rage fight­ers and the Rafale.

“Our CEO, an­nounced the ter­mi­na­tion process of the 5X with Safran due to their com­plete fail­ure with Sil­ver­crest. And we also de­cided to launch a brand new air­plane, which hap­pened to be the Fal­con 6X that was also an­nounced last week in Paris. Now with the Pratt & Whit­ney PW812D en­gine.”

“If there’s one com­pany that is ca­pa­ble of com­ing up with a su­per­sonic busi­ness jet, it will be Das­sault be­cause of our cred­i­bil­ity and the fact that we know how to fly close to Mach one”


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