Posted Jul 20, 2022, 7:28 PM
Contrasting skies for Dassault Aviation. Face A, the aircraft manufacturer had an excellent first half with “exceptional” order intake for its Rafales and Falcons, its CEO Eric Trappier said on Wednesday. Side B, the resurgence of Covid, the war in Ukraine and the resulting inflation threaten its supply chain and its industrial ramp-up. Not to mention the labor shortage.
“We will not have semesters like this every year,” welcomed the manager on the sidelines of the presentation of the results of the first half. Entry into force in April of the historic sale of 80 Rafale to the United Arab Emirates, order from Greece for 6 additional combat aircraft, signature of the Indonesian mega-contract in February, major long-term contracts for the maintenance of the Air Force… the order book weighs a total of 34.1 billion euros – against 20.8 a year ago -, enough to see coming in the medium term.
“We don’t have arms”
Over the semester, net profit jumped 28% to 272 million euros, for a stable turnover of 3.1 billion euros. Dassault forecasts sales for the year a little lower than last year (7.23 billion euros), without consequence since the latter depend on the delivery schedule, a little lower in 2022 (35 Falcon and only 13 Rafale aircraft, compared to 25 in 2021).
But a huge workload awaits the aircraft manufacturer. Over the past six months alone, order intake has totaled 127 aircraft, including 41 Falcon business jets, which are picking up well despite the total halt in sales to wealthy Russian customers. If the first Rafale deliveries to the Emiratis are not expected before 2027, Dassault will have to accelerate production rates – from 2 Rafale per month to 3 – if it wants to meet the deadlines.
However, “accelerating even more will not be easy, there is a shortage of manpower, we do not have the arms”, warns Eric Trappier. Russian counter-sanctions are also causing great strain on materials and components, and “ramp up” is again the topic,” he added, fearing that suppliers might can follow the ramp-up.
Airbus in the sights
As last March, during the presentation of the annual results, the CEO finally deplored the procrastination of the Future Air Combat System (SCAF), the future combat aircraft project carried in particular by France and Germany. The latter has stagnated for nearly a year while its rival, the BAE Systems Tempest, has just passed a pivotal stage.
“We ask Airbus and the Germans to trust us (…) and respect our project management” on the chapter of “flight controls”, impatient Eric Trappier, who is annoyed by the claims of Airbus in this area which Dassault has made a specialty of. The leader once again recalled that his group had no problem being the Airbus subcontractor on the Eurodrone project and asked for “reciprocity”. According to him, the delays of the project could even lead to an entry into service in 2050, whereas it was initially planned in 2040.