Home' Asian Aviation : AAV April 2010 Contents 16 AsianAviation | APRIL 2010
Mention the ATR Airjet 300,
Fairchild Dornier 928JET, or
Bombardier BRJ-X projects
to industry professionals and
the names are likely to ring a
bell. But that bell probably
does not ring clearly, nor is it likely to have been rung
in many years.
In the 1990s, those prospective regional jet (RJ)
projects were among about 25 competing designs from
seven di erent manufacturers listed by BAE Systems
as falling prey to rationalisation of the market for such
aircra types -- rationalisation that would eventually
claim BAE's own Avro RJX programme. By 2002, the
principle of 'sur vival-of-the-fattest' had le just the two
most rmly established manufacturers scrapping over
RJ orders: Bombardier and Embraer.
More recently, however, the trend has reversed with
the emergence of other large RJs. Having developed
their CRJ and EMB/ERJ aircra families, Bombardier
and Embraer now face competition from the Antonov
An-158, Comac ARJ21, Mitsubishi MRJ, and Sukhoi
Superjet 100. Indeed, such are industry's aspirations to
participate in the market that an earlier casualty, the
Fokker 100, is once again being touted for revival.
If European authorities approve a proposed Dutch
government loan to NG Aircra , a resurrected project
dubbed XF100 could be launched ahead of July's
Farnborough air show. NG Aircra (formed from the
earlier Rekkof Restart organisation) has been o ered
a 20 million euro (US$27 million) loan towards the
initial US$120-million cost of upgrading the original
Fokker 100 prototype airframe with new engines and
avionics, increased fuel capacity, a strengthened wing,
Phase 1 work includes addressing production and
certification "issues and risks", as well as supplier
selection, according to NG director Jaap Rosen
Jacobson, previously the principal behind Rekkof
and a major player in the European regional-airline
business. Dubbed the "NG Aircraft XF100", the
programme requires an estimated Phase 2 injection of
US$675 million to set up series production. Jacobson
claims that there is "substantial" interest in a new-build
upgraded variant, for which nal assembly would take
place in the Netherlands. Rolls-Royce BR725 engines
are understood to have been chosen for the XF100, but
Jacobson declines to con rm such suggestions.
Rekkof derived its name from spelling Fokker
backwards, but the original brand (which has a rich
and illustrious place in Dutch aeronautical history)
has been revived through a recent rebranding of Stork
Aerospace. Having acquired many of the Fokker assets
when the original company failed in 1996 (ironically,
with a two -year order backlog), Stork supported the
Fokker aircra eet and is understood to own the type
certi cate for the F100 -- which, technically, is the Mk
0100 variant of the Fokker Model 28.
For its part, NG Aircra owns F100 (and Fokker
70) manufacturing rights, production tooling, and lots
of aircra parts.
Jacobson says he is looking for orders for at least
40 aircra before re-launching production and for a
20 percent share of the 70- and 100-seat RJ markets,
which NG estimates will number 7,000 aircra up to
Speculative reports have suggested several operators
as potential launch customers, including : Austrian
Airlines; Avianca ; Contact Air; Lufthansa group
carriers such as Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, and Swiss;
and TAM. Dutch carrier KLM, now in partnership
with Air France, has essentially ruled itself out: it
recently disposed of several KLM Cityhopper F100s
that have now been replaced by Embraer 190s, although
a few smaller Fokker 70 RJs have been retained.
e possible development of upgrade kits for retro t
to current F100s is seen by Jacobson as no more than
a "fall-back scenario".
e NG Aircra XF100 programme is just the
latest attempt at reviving the F100. In 2002, Dutch
investors agreed to revive production with a subsidiary
of China Aviation Industry Corporation II (Avic II)
before that company agreed with Embraer to launch
local ERJ-145 production. Later, Iran's Simogh Air
signed a memorandum of understanding to obtain 25
Tay 650-powered Fokker 70s.
In 2005, with Jacobson leading Rekkof Restart,
progress was seen as depending on potential
development of a "new, more-modern engine" as an
alternative to the Roll-Royce Tay. Jacobson reported
interest from "a group of airlines", saying that higher
fuel costs and increased competition needed "a
modern solution". Accordingly, Rekkof and airlines,
consultants, and suppliers established studies for
an all-new engine to power new-build airframes.
Looking at that time for 80 launch orders, Rekkof
unsuccessfully sought to nd a second customer by
In the past couple of years, Rekkof has become
NG Aircra , setting up a design o ce and taking
on several engineers in new e orts to resuscitate the
programme. One recruit has been Rudi den Hertog,
formerly chief engineer at Fokker.
During his time there, he was involved in stillborn
projects such as the 138-seat Fokker 29 and 150-seat
McDonnell Douglas Fokker MDF100 joint venture.
Such experience makes him well placed to understand
the challenges facing NG Aircra .
Jacobson's dedication to the idea of relaunching the
F100 is unwavering. Having previously failed to nd
a new customer by April 2005, Jacobson gave himself
to the end of that year to nd an engine: " en, we
are de nitely nished and it will never y again."
"It's now or never," Jacobson concluded at the time,
echoing Elvis Presley. Today, it seems, his view veers
closer to another popular song title, this one by Lenny
Kravitz : 'It ain't over 'til it's over'. ●
Ian Goold / London
Fokker 100 revival efforts renewed
The Dutch government has offered a loan to NG Aircraft to help its efforts to bring the Fokker 100 regional jet back to life.
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