728 proprietor files for insolvency

 - July 24, 2007, 9:52 AM

Fairchild Dornier Aero Industries has filed for bankruptcy protection in a German district court, virtually ensuring the end of the latest attempt to resuscitate the long-foundering 728 regional jet. The company’s primary shareholder, Chinese investment firm D’Long, has cut off all funding for the enterprise after subsidiary D’Long Europe failed to attract any serious interest from outside investors.

D’Long’s quest to resurrect the 76-seat jet started more than a year ago, when it paid $10 million for rights to the program. Since then it ran power-on static tests in February and scheduled the first flight of the first prototype this fall. Under that assumption, it said it could gain certification by 2006. However, a substantial barrier stood in its way—namely, a need for some $1 billion to bring the airplane to market and launch series production.

Unfortunately for all involved, D’Long has suffered through its own
financial problems lately and could ill afford to sink more money into an enterprise whose chances of success looked dubious at best. Although Lufthansa reportedly showed receptiveness in early talks over a new launch order, skepticism on the part of potential partners about the real level of interest and the complexities of renegotiating supplier contracts thwarted D’Long’s efforts, leading to the demise of Fairchild Dornier’s latest incarnation.

The court has assigned a new bankruptcy administrator to sell the assets. Among those interested reportedly include Rekkof, the Dutch holding company formed from the remains of the defunct Fokker.