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The Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation is one of Arkansas’s largest private employers and is largely responsible for the state ranking eleventh in the nation in annual aviation exports. The company’s Little Rock (Pulaski County) site houses both completion and service centers for Dassault Aviation, Dassault Falcon Jet’s parent company based in Paris, France. Falcon jets are manufactured in France and then flown into the Little Rock site at Adams Field near the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport for painting of exteriors and installation of optional avionics and custom interiors.
In 1971, FedEx founder Fred Smith purchased a company called Arkansas Aviation Sales that was located at the site of the current completion center. Smith acquired the company Little Rock Airmotive and began using the site as a completion and modification center for a fleet of 33 Falcon 20s to be used as FedEx cargo planes. In 1975, Smith decided to relocate FedEx to Memphis, Tennessee, and sold the Little Rock Airmotive completion center to Dassault Falcon Jet, a company formed by Pan-Am and Dassault in 1972. Dassault cited Little Rock Airmotive’s extensive experience in completing and modifying Falcon jets and Little Rock’s base of a highly skilled workforce in cabinetry, carpentry, leather, and upholstery as its motive for purchasing the facility. Dassault Falcon Jet hoped the Little Rock site could become the nucleus of its production and completion operation. At this time, the site was a 61,500-square-foot hangar and office facility.
In 1985, Falcon Jet Little Rock modified some of the former FedEx freighters for a British company called Flight Refueling. These remodeled Falcons were used as target tows and simulators for the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force.
The Little Rock site became Dassault Falcon Jet’s main completion center. Workers finish the interiors and paint the exteriors of corporate jets. The Little Rock site is the largest of the four Dassault Falcon Jet locations in the United States and the company’s sixteen locations worldwide.
The Little Rock site is a well-equipped and efficient facility for the company, offering completion and service centers. A new service center was completed in 2008, containing about 145,000 square feet of hangar and back shop space. In 2015, a 350,000-square-foot expansion was completed, bringing the facility to 1.25 million square feet. Service center operations include Dassault engineering; airframe and engine maintenance; avionics installation and upgrades; interior modifications and refurbishments; repair of composite; structural component repairs; exterior refurbishment (including custom exterior design presented with color renderings); European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Brazil Repair Station certifications; airframe repair; and pre-purchase evaluations. The site provides around-the-clock support for its Falcon customers.
The site employed more than 2,000 people in 2009, when a recession forced layoffs. In 2015, it was reported that about 1,850 people worked at the Little Rock site. Dassault Falcon remains one of Arkansas’s largest private employers.
For additional information:Arkansas Aerospace & Defense Alliance. http://www.arkansasaerospace.com/ (accessed November 20, 2015).
Dassault Aviation & Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation. http://www.dassaultfalcon.com/index_static.jsp (accessed November 20, 2015).
Henry, John. “Dassault’s Growth Reflects Aviation Industry Potential.” Arkansas Business. August 27, 2007, pp. 22–23.
Michael KaiserLittle Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated 11/20/2015
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