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Dassault Plans $100M Expansion of Little Rock Facility

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Aircraft manufacturer Dassault Falcon Jet on Tuesday announced a $100 million expansion of its Little Rock facility, a project expected to create 800 jobs over the next four to five years.

The company currently occupies about 1.25 million SF near the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport and employs about 1,400 people.

Dassault is adding space and employees to support development and delivery of its Falcon 6X private jet, which it says has the tallest and widest cabin in business aviation. The $53 million long-range jet is the first Falcon equipped with the company’s new advanced diagnostics system, which monitors and reports on 100,000 maintenance parameters. Other features include an optional private suite that can serve as a meeting place or sleeping place.

Parent company Dassault Aviation of Paris, France, said the Falcon 6X received certifications from American and European aviation regulators in August.

A larger jet, the Falcon 10X, is in development with plans to begin flying in 2025.

“Our expected demand for new Falcons — such as our Falcon 6X which has just entered service — required that we evaluate our production needs including our completion capacity,” said Eric Trappier, chair and CEO of Dassault Aviation.

Company officials, along with Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr., announced the expansion during a news conference Tuesday morning at Dassault’s Little Rock airport facility.

The project in Little Rock qualified for the following state incentives: the Tax Back program, which provides sales and use tax refunds on the purchase of building materials and taxable machinery; 10 years of the Create Rebate program, an annual cash rebate based on the number of jobs added by a company and targeted wages; and $12 million from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund.

Clint O’Neal, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, said the state will also help Dassault recruit and train workers. He said AEDC is working with the state Office of Skills Development on a grant to set up a training center. AEDC is also partnering with the Little Rock Regional Chamber to attract workers.

“This is a four or five-year outlook on how do we stand up workforce development training programs that take people with, you know, some soft skills in the area and and help with some customized training to get them ready for these jobs,” he said.

In a news release, Sanders said the company’s plan “cements Arkansas’ role as an aerospace powerhouse.” Aerospace and defense products are Arkansas’ top export category, generating $890 million in 2022, according to AEDC’s website.

“I’m grateful to Dassault’s leadership for doubling down on their investment in central Arkansas and will keep cutting taxes, growing our workforce, and improving our schools to help Arkansas’ aerospace industry continue to expand,” the Republican governor said. Sanders said she and a delegation of Arkansas officials met with Dassault U.S. and its French leadership at the Paris International Air Show in June.

The project comes as executives at Arkansas’ publicly traded companies increasingly use corporate jets for personal trips. The value of the aircraft perk was up in 2022 for nine of the 15 executives who also used the benefit in 2021.

Dassault completed a $60 million, 250,000-SF expansion of its Little Rock facility in 2015. The company in 2008 invested $20 million to add four state-of-the-art paint bays, in addition to new production, design, and warehouse space.

Dassault has operated in Arkansas since 1975 when it opened its aircraft completion facility in Little Rock. The company flies unfinished aircraft into the Little Rock completion center and installs optional avionics, custom interiors and exterior painting. The company also operates service center for Falcon customers in Little Rock.

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