Update: Dassault Falcon Jet in Little Rock Plans $60M Expansion

by Lance Turner and Luke Jones  on Wednesday, May. 29, 2013 11:00 am  

Dassault Falcon Jet Corp. said Wednesday that it will invest $60 million over the next three years in refurbishment and new construction at its operations at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, expanding its footprint there by 250,000-SF.

The company, which installs avionics equipment and custom interiors in the private jets it makes elsewhere, said site preparation will begin in early 2014 and construction will take place through early 2016. The expansion will bring Dassault's total footprint at the airport to 1.25 million SF.

The expansion will include refurbishment of its cabinet, upholstery and headliner shops and upgrades to older hangars, the company said. 

A spokesman for Dassault said the company won't know the number of jobs created by the expansion until construction begins next year.

"Little Rock has been a major part of our company identity over the last 38 years and today is the company’s largest industrial facility," said Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. "It has become our worldwide center of excellence for primary completion activities and pioneered the use of digital design in cabin completion. The new investment will not only increase capacity but enhance the overall quality and efficiency of the products we provide to our customers."

The company said its new completion facility will be "state-of-the-art," with tools and processes that will shorten completion time and increase quality and accuracy. It noted that in 2010, it received Federal Aviation Administration approval to use 3D data during the completion process. The company said the technology will enhance quality and allow customers to visualize the final configuration of the aircraft.

In a news release, Dassault said it delivered 66 of its Falcon aircraft in 2012 and that it "expects that number to increase in the coming years."

Keeping Falcon Here

Dassault company leaders, along with Gov. Mike Beebe, U.S. Sen. John Boozman, U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, revealed expansion plans at an 11 a.m. news conference.

Beebe, who called the company a "cornerstone of Arkansas' aviation sector," said it wasn't easy for the state to hold on to the Little Rock facility.

"We were in a battle for this expansion," Beebe said. "We were in a battle for this expansion that could have resulted in it going somewhere else in this country."

Grant Tennille, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, said other cities were "very aggressively" trying to lure Dassault away from Little Rock, which would have resulted in an immediate loss of 400 jobs here.



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