10 Things You Didn’t Know About Charles Edelstenne


Charles Edelstenne has been an influential figure in the aerospace and defense industry for many years. As the former CEO of Dassault Aviation and current Chairman of Dassault Group, he has developed a reputation for his leadership and strategic vision. Despite his public persona, there are several aspects of his life that remain lesser-known to the general public. In this article, we will delve into ten lesser-known facts about this industry titan, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the man behind numerous successful business endeavors.

1. Early Life

Born on 9th January 1938, Charles Edelstenne didn’t come from a wealthy family. He was born in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, a basic middle-class region. His parents had ordinary jobs, with his father a salesman and his mother a housewife. Yet, his humble beginnings did not deter him from achieving his goals.

His childhood years, however, played an instrumental role in shaping Edelstenne’s future. Along with hard work and determination, Charles had a knack for numbers, something that he indulged in his education, propelling him to a career that allowed him to utilize this gift to his advantage.

2. Education

Charles Edelstenne is a graduate of HEC Paris, also known as École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris. This business school is one of the most prestigious in the world, producing many successful alumni who have gone on to lead international companies.

Edelstenne’s training at HEC Paris equipped him with foundational knowledge and skills in business and management, which he successfully applied throughout his career. It was at HEC, where his passion for finance and business started to take shape and transform into a successful career.

3. Early Career

Charles started his career as an accountant, joining Cabinet Barbier Frinault & Autres, an accounting firm later incorporated into Ernst & Young Global Limited. In 1965, he joined Dassault Aviation Group. As an accountant and finance expert, he was instrumental in steering the financial direction of the company.

Within the company, Edelstenne rapidly moved up the ranks thanks to his acute business sense and knack for decision-making. And in a few years, cemented his place as one of Dassault Aviation’s most important figures.

4. CEO of Dassault Aviation

In 2000, after decades working for Dassault Aviation, Charles Edelstenne was made the CEO of the company. His extensive experience within the organization and deep knowledge of the industry positioned him to lead the company successfully.

His tenure as CEO saw the company making significant strides in both military and civilian aviation. Under his leadership, Dassault became one of the leading players in the aviation industry.

5. Leadership Style

Edelstenne’s leadership style is often described as visionary and decisive. He is known for his strategic approach, often looking at the long-term impact of the decisions he makes. His leadership has always been about “leading from the front” – a style that is visible in his handling of Dassault Aviation’s growth and expansion.

In addition to being a strategic thinker, he is known for his emphasis on research and development, believing that the future of aviation lies in innovation and technological advancement.

6. Retirement and Successor

Charles Edelstenne retired as CEO of Dassault Aviation in 2013, as he reached the age limit of 75. He was succeeded by Eric Trappier, another veteran of the company.

Despite his retirement, Edelstenne continued to play an influential role in Dassault Aviation and the broader aviation industry. His expertise and vision are frequently sought, and he remains an active participant in strategic discussions.

7. Dassault Group Chairman

Following the death of Serge Dassault in 2018, Charles Edelstenne was elected Chairman of Dassault Group. Even though he was already in his 80s at the time, his passion for the aerospace industry and his dedication to the Dassault Group remained as strong as ever.

Under his leadership, the Dassault Group expanded its influence and continued its pursuit for innovation in both the aviation and software industries.

8. Philanthropic Activities

Edelstenne is actively involved in numerous philanthropic causes. He’s known for his work with the French Air and Space Academy, a non-profit academy dedicated to the promotion of air and space science and technology.

Furthermore, through the Dassault Group, Edelstenne has supported numerous social initiatives, particularly in the field of education.

9. Recognition and Awards

Over his long and illustrious career, Charles Edelstenne has received many honors and awards. He received the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest order of merit for military and civil merits.

In addition, his contribution to the aerospace industry has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Order of Merit for Aeronautics.

10. His Private Life

Despite his public role, Charles Edelstenne is known for his privacy when it comes to his family and personal life. He is tight-lipped about his private life, preferring to keep the focus on his professional achievements.

While he seldom shares details about his personal life, it is known that he’s a great admirer of art, a passion he shares with the Dassault family. His dedication to work and the industry, however, makes him one of the respected figures in the world of aviation.


From humble beginnings, to running one of the most influential aerospace companies, and continuing to be an ardent supporter of the aviation industry, Charles Edelstenne has led a fascinating life. A look at his career journey offers plenty of insights and inspiration for aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs. Yet, beyond his achievements and titles, he remains a deeply private individual who champions discretion and humility.

Official Website of Dassault Aviation
The Legion d’Honneur Information