Within Dassault Customer Service there is a small, unique group that has long deserved mention here – Falcon Operational Support. This is an elite team of pilots – just nine of them – helping new and longtime Falcon operators all over the world.
They perform an amazing range of missions. The more dramatic ones include flying aircraft under special ferry permits–for example flying a Falcon 900 on two engines out of a conflict zone in Africa. Day to day, the activities are more routine, but equally demand an exceptional skill set.
Falcon Operational Support provides line training to flight departments accepting a new aircraft type. That could involve a handful of landings or accompanying crews on 20-30 legs for periods of up to three months in some cases. They do this all over the world – in China, Australia, Africa and elsewhere. That requires an ability to adapt to long stretches away from home and a comfort level in other cultures. It also requires a knowledge of different aviation operating environments from one region to another.
The group’s pilots are both instructors and examiners. In fact, exceptional instructional ability is the most important criterion for acceptance into Falcon Operational Support. Do you need a checkout on the tricky approach into the 3,500-foot runway in St. Tropez or on the steep approach into London City? These are the people to call.
Working with the flight test department, they finalize the standards for post-maintenance check flights, perform them, and also brief customers’ pilots so that they can conduct extensive return-to-service test flights, such as post C-check.
They create new and revised flight manual procedures for individual aircraft or model ranges – recently, a revised engine out procedure for the Falcon 20. Group pilots are rated in all models from the Falcon 20 to the 8X.
They conduct demo flights, introducing pilots and passengers to the advanced Falcon flight deck and demonstrating the full capabilities of each Falcon model. They deliver aircraft from maintenance centers and the Little Rock completion center. They are in the air a lot.
This group offers key input to the development teams for the 6X and the 10X, bringing their operational and customer experience. They will play a critical role in introducing the Falcon 6X to new owners, defining sim sessions, training the CAE trainers and customer pilots. Several pilots in the group have flown the 6X with the flight test team to begin gaining experience.
Chief Pilot Olivier Perriaud cites the group’s diversity of experience as a particular strength, with team members coming from the military, commercial airlines, business aviation flight departments and one member serving previously as a Dassault engineer. That brings many perspectives to the task of designing best practices and approaching the requirements of individual operators.
During 15 years in the French Air Force, Olivier flew the Falcon 20, the Sud Aviation Caravelle (one of the earliest jet airliners), and the Douglas DC-8. For five years he was based in Tahiti flying the ultra-long-range Airbus A340 for Air Tahiti Nui. That gives him the rare background of having flown the very earliest jet transports to the most modern business jets, including now the state-of-the-art 6X.
Of all the skills he’s picked up along the way, Olivier will tell you the most important is relating to other pilots. “We never know who will be sitting next to us in the left or right seat,” says Olivier. “Some are very experienced and some are not. Our job is to help them excel at flying Falcons.”
Senior Vice President, Worldwide Falcon Customer Service & Service Center Network