On November 19th, Dassault Falcon Jet held a ceremonial grand opening of its most recent expansion, Hanger 14. The LRWDB’s Executive Director, W. J. Monagle, and two Dassault Falcon Jet executives and LRWDB board members, Eric F. Tate and Mark Bremer, were in attendance.
The opening of the $60 million extension boosts the company’s Little Rock footprint to 1.25 million ft², making it “the largest industrial facility in Dassault’s network”, according to John Rosanvallon, Dassault Falcon Jet’s chief executive. The new construction allows the simultaneous finishing of 14 5X and 8X Falcon jet airplanes, including the first full VIP interior on 8X serial numbers three and six. The ambitious project comes seven years after the previous $20 million upgrade, which added 116,000 ft² to support 7X completions. Such a milestone is especially fitting as Dassault celebrates its centennial in 2016.
As the opening ceremony began, a small sparrow hawk that had been unintentionally trapped in the hangar swooped through the high rafters of the enormous new building. What an omen of good fortune, hopefulness and humility, because despite its misnomer, the sparrow hawk is the smallest member of the North American falcon family. Surely, this bird is in the family of noble hunters that originally inspired Marcel Dassault and early aviation pioneers as they looked toward the possibilities of flight for humans. From the company’s first canvas, wood and wire SEA IV bi-plane, built in 1918, to the sleek, luxurious Falcon 8X used as a background for the ceremony, Dassault has achieved – and in some ways surpassed – the ease, speed and natural flight of the falcon.
Since the ceremony occurred only six days after the horrendous attacks in Paris, this French company was supported by its American community in Little Rock, with words of solidarity and fraternity from Mayor Mark Stodola and City Director Stacy Hurst. The crowd was both solemn and certain that freedom will prevail and the falcon will again soar unhindered over a peaceful and shared earth.