Dassault to spend $10 million, add 100 jobs in LR expansion

Aug. 16, 2007

Dassault Aircraft Services announced Tuesday a $10 million expansion of its Little Rock Service Center, doubling its capacity and adding about 100 jobs over the next three years.

The expansion of the aircraft services section is in addition to Dassault Falcon Jet Corp.'s June announcements that it would be spending $20 million and adding about 200 jobs as it expands its Little Rock completion center.

And there's probably more in store, Jack Young, president of Dassault Aircraft Services, said by phone Tuesday.

"We're continuing to grow the operation in Little Rock as our business continues to grow," he said. "We certainly don't foresee that we've finished our expansion in Little Rock at this point." The company is responding to increasing orders of its planes, according to Young, including demand for the Falcon 7X, the company's flagship. The company has received 165 orders for the plane, which is built in France and then flown to Little Rock for finishing.

"Over the past several years, the historic demand for Falcons has required Dassault to continuously grow and improve our service center network," John Rosanvallon, president and chief executive officer of Dassault Falcon, said in a prepared statement. "And with the Falcon 7X now in service, we expect increased demand on our factory-owned service centers which operators have come to rely on [for] their in-depth knowledge of Falcons." Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola said the total $30 million investment in Little Rock is the sign of a good partnership between the city, state and company.

"One of the bright stars in Little Rock's sky is business aviation, and Dassault Falcon is a leader internationally," he said.

Joe Holmes, spokesman for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, said, "This points to the fact that aviation is one of our targets here in Arkansas." He added that business aviation is the state's single largest export.

Little Rock's service center, which performs maintenance and repairs, used to have greater capacity, Young said, but demand from the completion center required giving up some of the space.

Currently, the service center has capacity for six jets. The expansion will provide room for six more planes, as well as "backshop" space. The backshop will allow the service center to complete its own refurbishment of aircraft interiors and structures, something that used to be outsourced to the completion center and other suppliers, Young said.

The jobs will mainly be maintenance technicians and craftsmen, with average starting salaries of about $40,000, he said.

Dassault has two other company-owned service centers in Wilmington, Del., and Le Bourget, France, and a network of 25 other worldwide maintenance centers. The project will break ground in the third quarter of this year and be completed by the end of 2008. The completion facility expansion is scheduled to be finished by early 2008, and will bring the size of the Little Rock operation to 827,000 square feet. The Little Rock facility has nearly 2,000 employees with a payroll of $116 million - expected to reach $200 million by the end of the year.

This article was published 08/15/2007