By Tim Hepher and Allison Lampert
PARIS (Reuters) – Dassault Aviation launched a new long-range “flying penthouse” on Thursday in a bid to challenge rivals who sell planes to the ultra-rich and heads of state in the upper-end luxury market.
The Falcon 10X will be the French aircraft maker’s most powerful model, with a range of 7,500 nautical miles (13,890 kilometers), and will compete with the high-end models offered by Bombardier and General Dynamics’ Gulfstream.
The plane will enter service in late 2025 and, when there is fierce debate over aviation emissions, it will come equipped with Rolls-Royce Pearl engines designed to run entirely on sustainable aviation fuel, Dassault said.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and chronic volatility in demand for smaller private jets, the market for the largest models in the sector has been driven by rising wealth in Asia.
“It’s the only part of the market that held up very well throughout the pandemic,” Agency Partners analyst Sash Tusa said.
Health has become a top concern for the industry’s wealthiest clients, along with security and privacy.
“All corporate executives, VIPs, want to travel very safely. They want to save time. And private aviation is really the answer,” Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, said in a webcast.
“Vaccines should be the solution to soften the effects of a virus of this type. But we have to know that we will have to live a long time with viruses, whether they are COVID-19 or others. So it is also good to have a private plane to fly safely. “
(Reporting by Tim Hepher and Allison Lampert; Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)