June 26, 2013

To accommodate future demand for its aircraft, Dassault Falcon Jet recently announced a $60 million expansion of its worldwide completion center at the Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, AR. With work beginning in 2014, the three-year project will add 250,000 square feet to the existing facility, expanding its footprint to 1.25 million square feet.

As the company’s largest industrial facility, “the new investment will not only increase capacity, but enhance the overall quality and efficiency of the products we provide to our customers,” said Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier in a press release.

Accomplished in phases, the project includes a 14-bay hangar that will house production and completion work on a new airplane the company will announce in October, said Andrew Ponzoni, senior manager of communications. Other phases include improved workflow at the facility and the refurbishment of the cabinetry, upholstery and headliner shops. The expansion will create new jobs, said Ponzoni, and the economy and demand for airplanes will ultimately determine how many.

Working to achieve shared economic benefits, the state, the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission (LRMAC) and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission negotiated what Gov. Mike Beebe called “a productive exchange that ultimately led to a win-win agreement for Dassault Falcon Jet and the state of Arkansas.”

“One of the airport commission’s primary roles is to make a positive economic impact on our community,” said Kay Kelley Arnold, LRMAC chairwoman. Citing the importance of protecting the nearly 2,000 jobs at the facility, in addition to the new jobs created by the expansion, “We provided a $41 million incentive package, which consists of reduced rents to existing and new buildings as they revert to the airport.”

Looking beyond Little Rock, “Dassault is the core of the aviation industry in Arkansas,” Arnold said. “Aviation and aerospace-related industry is responsible for nearly 10,000 jobs in our state. Dassault is a major piece of that economic engine and the airport commission is committed to helping them grow and prosper.”

Dassault moved to the airport in 1975 when it purchased Little Rock Airmotive. To that experienced workforce, Dassault added local artisans in cabinetry, upholstery and related skills. Feeding the pool is the Pulaski Technical College’s Aerospace Technology Center, which is located on the airport grounds.

This is the company’s second major investment in the completion and service center. It completed an 116,000-square-foot expansion in 2008, which included a four-bay paint facility, new production and design areas, an expanded warehouse and a new flight line.

Since it began work at Little Rock, Dassault has completed nearly 1,000 airplanes there.