Dassault Sees Slowdown But Still Plans Expansion

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With the evolving credit crisis hanging over the aviation economy, Dassault joined Cessna this week in conceding that order uptake has slowed. But, like Cessna, Dassault has an impressive backlog -- about 500 aircraft -- which it hopes will see it through the credit crisis. Dassault CEO John Rosanvallon told reporters this week at the NBAA convention in Orlando that the first six months of 2008 "have been more than good" for Dassault, but he reports the company already sees a definite slowdown in its U.S. and Western European business.

Demand from China, India and the Middle East, he said, has remained resilient, with relatively few order cancellations. Rosanvallon said demand from Russia appears vulnerable due to the retraction of the Russian stock market. Nonetheless, Dassault is proceeding apace to expand production capabilities, nearly doubling its assembly capacity, and, like Cessna and other manufacturers, it's expanding its technical and service facilities worldwide. It has just launched a new support depot in San Jose, California with $34 million in parts and same-day or next-day delivery service for most areas of the U.S.