The CEO and Chairman of Dassault Group, Serge Dassault, passed away at 93 years old from a heart failure on May 28, 2018. Following the legacy of his father, the businessman helped his company enter the 21th century to become one of the leading European military manufacturers and a respected business jet brand.

Serge Dassault (formerly Serge Bloch) was born in Paris on April 4, 1925. His father, Marcel Bloch, established the plane manufacturing company “Société des avions Marcel Bloch” in 1928. After surviving deportation for refusing to work with the Nazis, Marcel takes the name of “Dassault” in 1946, and his company becomes the “Société des avions Marcel Dassault”.  

After graduating from French aeronautics school SupAero, Dassault entered the family business in 1951, where he made a heavy influence on both the civilian and military branches of the company throughout his 67 years of career.

Dassault led the first prospection of Dassault Aviation for business jets at the National Business Aviation Association in 1962, of which he came back with the conclusion that the U.S. market had a demand for business jets. Consequently, in 1963, the company introduced its business plane. The Mystère 20, the first French business jet, made its maiden flight in front of a Pan Am delegation led by aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh. The largest American airline at the time placed a firm order for 40 planes, with an option for 120 more that was fully exerced. The Falcon family was born.

In 1986, when Dassault took the helm of Dassault Aviation, the world was about to change: with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Europe had the opportunity to leave the U.S. industrial hegemony in the defense sector. As the Mirage family was reaching its end on a successful note with the Mirage 2000 being sold to nine different countries, Dassault decided to bet on the Rafale program with enthusiasm, despite criticism coming from peers, the French government and the navy. Less than twenty years later, the Rafale managed to impose itself as one of the top fighter planes of its generation.

Dassault was president of Dassault Aviation from 1986 to 2010. After turning 75, as per company policy, he was succeeded by his right-hand man Charles Edelstenne.

Besides being a symbol of French Aviation industry, Dassault was also a controversial political figure. The businessman was a right-wing senator from 2004 to 2017. He was indicted for voting fraud and money laundering, leading to his ineligibility on February 4, 2017.

For now, the Dassault-family leadership of the company will be on hold. As it was announced in 2014, Charles Edelstenne will “automatically” succeed Serge Dassault as president of the Group. Dassault’s son, Olivier Dassault, promised that there would be “no heir quarrel” between him and his three siblings.