October 11, 2017 / 7:09 PM / a year ago

Dassault CEO not yet considering alternative engine suppliers

FILE PHOTO: Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation CEO, poses for pictures in front of an Dassault Rafale C fighter during the 51st Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 15, 2015. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) Chief Executive Eric Trappier said he wants to hear how aerospace group Safran SA (SAF.PA) will tackle engine development issues that have delayed the French planemaker’s latest business jet before considering alternative suppliers.

“For the moment we are waiting to see whether Safran are able to tell us how they will try to minimize the impact,” he told Reuters.

Dassault is keeping its options open for the new long-range Falcon 5X business jet, Trappier said on the sidelines of a company event in Las Vegas during the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) flagship gathering this week.

Safran was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this week, Trappier said that the business jet, which had already been delayed to 2020, would have to be postponed again, after Safran informed Dassault of performance issues with the high-pressure compressor.

Trappier said Dassault has an execution contract with Safran over the new Silvercrest engine used to power the long-range jets, but he declined to say whether the French planemaker would receive compensation for the delays because such talks are confidential.

Trappier also said he viewed the possibility of selling Dassault’s Rafale fighter jets to the Canadian government as an opportunity for “strong cooperation” between Canada and France. The Rafale could be partly built in Canada, he said.

Earlier this year, Canada froze talks on the planned purchase of 18 F-18 Super Hornet jets from Boeing Co (BA.N) for more than $5 billion, after the company launched a trade challenge accusing Montreal-based Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) of dumping its new CSeries airliners into the U.S. market.

Canada needs the 18 jets to act as a stopgap measure until it is able run an open competition to replace its veteran CF-18 fighters, a process that could take five years. The CF-18 is the Canadian version of the F-18 Hornet, a design that is 40 years old.

Reporting by Allison Lampert in Las Vegas; editing by Cynthia Osterman

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