How A Chance Encounter with an Australian Air Force VIP Aircraft Changed A Career
This year the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) celebrates its 100th anniversary. ExecuJet’s Richard Porter tells how a chance encounter with a RAAF 34 Squadron Falcon 900 in the early 1990s would prove to be a defining moment in his career
ExecuJet MRO Services Regional Sales Manager for Australasia, Richard Porter, is based in Sydney but started his career in the UK as an Airframe Fitter for British Aerospace.
He emigrated to Australia in the early 1990s and his first job in Australia was working as a line maintenance technician for a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company at Sydney Airport maintaining Beechcraft 1900s for regional carrier Impulse Airlines.
His earlier experience at British Aerospace – performing sheet metal and final assembly work on BAe 146 aircraft at Hatfield Aerodrome, north of London – helped him to get the job.
But the defining moment of his career came when he got a call from his Sydney employer to assist with an inspection on a business jet. The MRO company had a contract performing the heavy maintenance for the RAAF 34 squadron’s fleet of government VIP aircraft.
“I walked into the hangar and sitting there was a Falcon 900 in the livery of the RAAF. From that moment on, I wanted to work with business jets.”
The RAAF and Dassault Aviation have a shared history. The RAAF used to operate the Dassault Mirage III fighter. In terms of VIP aircraft, the RAAF operated the Falcon 20 and then later moved to the Falcon 900. Today the RAAF operates the Falcon 7X as VIP transport.
“One thing that differentiates a Falcon is craftsmanship,” says Porter, adding that the true beauty of a Falcon lies beneath the skin.
“When all of the inspection panels are removed during the check, all of the systems inside that you normally cannot see, are engineered impeccably. This is the result of Dassault’s CATIA software,” he says.
The engineering is very precise on Falcon aircraft. There is a focus on weight reduction and efficiency. Falcon business jets draw on Dassault’s fighter heritage. If you look closely at a Dassault Mirage fighter and you look at a Dassault Falcon 20 leading edge system, it is just a scaled up and scaled down version of the same thing.”
“There is no doubt that the research, development and innovation that goes into Dassault Aviation fighters has later been applied to its business jets,” says Porter, adding that the Falcon 7X’s fly-by-wire system is derived from Dassault’s Rafale fighter.
He says the high level of craftsmanship also applies to the interior cabin. “Even in areas that are not going to be seen by the aircraft owner, it is all done perfectly. The attention to detail is very impressive.”
“When I had the opportunity to visit Dassault Aviation’s final assembly line in Merignac, southern France, it was like visiting a high-tech laboratory. The wings align perfectly with the fuselage structure, so that when they attach, it is a smooth and seamless process. It is so precise and fantastic to see.”
ExecuJet MRO Services has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Dassault Aviation since early 2019 and is an approved service centre for Dassault Aviation’s range of Falcon business jets. If you fly a Falcon, call us today to learn more about our comprehensive range of MRO services.