New engines are at the heart of Rekkof RJ revival

 - October 30, 2006, 11:29 AM

Following earlier unsuccessful efforts, revival of the 79- and 107-seat Fokker 70 and 100 regional jets could now depend on the development of a “new, more modern engine,” according to Rekkof chairman Jaap Rosen Jacobson. Rekkof acquired F70/F100 tooling and design rights after the Dutch manufacturer’s 1996 failure.

Jacobson reported interest from “a group of airlines” in such a revival but added that higher fuel costs and increased competition require “a modern solution,” namely an alternative to the previous Rolls-Royce Tay engines. Accordingly, in conjunction with airlines, consultants and suppliers, Rekkof (“Fokker” spelled backwards) launched feasibility studies but has yet to convince an engine company to commit to such an undertaking.

Previously, Rekkof had agreed with China Aviation Industry to build new aircraft in Nanchang. Then, Iran’s Simogh Air signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire 25 Rolls-Royce Tay 650-powered Fokker 70s starting in 2007.

Needing orders for 80 aircraft to re-launch the program, however, Rekkof set a deadline of this past April to land a second, preferably European, customer. Now it has given itself until the end of this year. “Then, we are definitely finished and it will never fly again,” said Jacobson. “It’s now or never.”