Fokker 100 Revival Could Take Off with Dutch Loan

 - March 26, 2010, 11:44 AM
The Dutch government has offered a $27 million loan toward the cost of upgrading the prototype Fokker 100 regional jet to test the feasibility of re-engining and upgrading the design and resuming its production as the NG Aircraft XF100.

An early casualty of the contraction of the regional jet market could get a new lease on life, as European authorities consider approving a €20 million ($27 million) loan by the Dutch government to NG Aircraft to revive the Fokker 100. The initial capital injection would help jump-start an effort to upgrade the program’s original prototype with new powerplants and avionics, additional fuel capacity, a stronger wing and winglets. All told, the project’s first phase would require $120 million, said NG director Jaap Rosen Jacobson, who declined to comment on indications that the company has already selected the Rolls-Royce BR725 engine.

Phase 1 covers production and certification “issues and risks,” and selection of suppliers. Dubbed the “NG Aircraft XF100,” the project needs a further Phase 2 tranche of some $675 million to establish series production, according to Jacobson. He also told of “substantial” interest in an updated, new-build version that his company would assemble in the Netherlands. Jacobson said he sees development of retrofit kits for existing F100s as only a “fall-back scenario.”

Stork Aerospace, the company that supported the Fokker fleet since the manufacturer’s 1996 bankruptcy, has already renamed itself Fokker Aerospace. It holds the F100 (technically Fokker 28 Mk 0100) type certificate, while NG–formerly known as Rekkof–owns manufacturing rights, production tooling and many parts. NG wants launch orders for at least 40 aircraft and aspires to a 20-percent share of the 7,000-strong market it sees for 70- and 100-seat RJs through 2026.

Meanwhile, ex-Fokker chief engineer Rudi den Hertog has joined NG Aircraft. Having worked on the stillborn 138-seat F29 and 150-seat McDonnell Douglas Fokker MDF100 projects, he perhaps as well as anyone recognizes the challenges facing NG Aircraft as it looks to join the ranks of an increasingly crowded 100-seat market segment.