Born-again Fokker 100 waits on loan approval
Fokker Services, part of Fokker Aerospace is preparing to modify a prototype Fokker F100 airliner as a demonstrator vehicle for the proposed successor to the type being planned under the name Aircraft XF100NG. If launched, this planned revival of the former Dutch aerospace manufacturer’s last production model–manufacturing of which ceased in 1996– would be powered by new, modern engines and equipped with new avionics, winglets and have more fuel capacity.
NG Aircraft, a renaming of the previous Rekkof Restart company set up some years ago to support an earlier attempt to relaunch the F100 family, hopes that the European Commission (EC) will soon approve a $27 million loan offered by the Dutch government in March. The company, which is part of the Panta Holdings group led by aerospace and aviation entrepreneur Jaap Rosen Jacobson, has indicated that EC approval could come as early as September.
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Company officials expect the EC approval will trigger the investment of further sums toward the $120 million Phase 1 investment needed to upgrade the F100 prototype as a proof-of-concept demonstrator aircraft. NG Aircraft vice president Maarten Van Eeghen told AIN the company has two possible sources–“one private, one industrial”–for the balance of the Phase 1 development cost, for which agreements would be signed only after EC approval is obtained. Second-phase development would require an additional $675 million to set up series production.
Van Eeghen said a design review of the XF100NG last month concluded there are major engineering hurdles to launching the program and that NG Aircraft is ready to sign a contract with Fokker Services as lead contractor. Fokker Aerospace (Hall 3 Stand C2) will act as a subcontractor and will not invest in the initiative of Rekkof/NG Aircraft. In the event that Rekkof launches a Fokker 100/70NG, Fokker Aerospace and Rekkof have a cooperation agreement regarding intellectual property, tooling and so on, which has been in place for more than 10 years.
Fokker Services has been providing engineering support to NG Aircraft for the required modifications since late last year, according to Wim Pasteuning, vice president for Fokker programs, and is among a number of XF100NG partners. Others include French group Sagem and engineering consultancies Atkins Aerospace and ADSE. Almost 50 technical employees are engaged on the project under a 12- to 15-member management team.
The first engineering priority will be installation of the new powerplants, with a choice of “about three” suitable designs, said Van Eeghen, a former Fokker Aircraft marketing executive. It is thought that Rolls-Royce BR725 engines have been selected to replace the earlier F100’s Tay turbofans from the same manufacturer, although NG Aircraft cannot confirm the choice.
Pasteuning said the XF100NG’s winglets, for which NG is understood to be studying several solutions, would be the second part of development activity, ahead of avionics integration work. NG Aircraft has plans to install a new auxiliary power unit to improve the basic aircraft’s cabin air conditioning and temperature control.
Work to increase the F100’s original basic fuel capacity by making the outer wing sections “wet” will not start until the flight-test program is under way, since NG Aircraft wants to obtain an indication of the demonstrator’s specific fuel consumption before incurring the cost of modification.
NG also needs to validate the performance targets it has advertised for the XF100NG. Compared with the parent design, the XF100NG is expected to offer a faster cruise speed (Mach 0.80), a higher cruise altitude (FL390) and different wing loading.
NG has said it needs up to 40 launch orders and would like to win 20 percent of the estimated 7,000-unit market for 70- and 100-seat RJs up to 2026. Development of retrofit kits for existing F100s could comprise a “fall-back scenario,” said Jacobson earlier this year.