The empty hangars at Oberpfaffenhofen airfield outside Munich reflect a stark impression of the decline Germany’s aerospace industry has experienced over the past decade. But if one were to look hard enough, signs of renewal have begun to emerge at this extensive industrial site, where Dornier GmbH built scores of aircraft for more than 60 years.
A series of visits to Haikou, China, by AvCraft managing director Wolfgang Walter finally paid dividends last month, when Hainan Airlines placed a firm order for 20 Fairchild Dornier 328JETs. The contract, signed during a May 3 ceremony hosted by German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and attended by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, converted options on five airplanes to firm status and added a new order for 15 of the PW306B-powered jets.
China’s AVIC I announced a trio of orders for 35 ARJ21 regional jets during the Beijing Air Show last month. The largest of the three contracts–for 20 of the 70- to 90-passenger jets–came from Shenzhen Financial Leasing. The others involved a five-aircraft launch order from Shanghai Aviation Group and a 10-unit commitment from Shandong Airlines. AVIC I expects to fly the first prototype in 2006 and start deliveries by the end of 2007.
AvCraft Aviation, the Leesburg, Va.-based parent company of Germany’s Fairchild Dornier, has decided to build the wings for the Dornier 328Jet at its plant outside Munich after signing a deal with EAG Engineering + Design to supply the airfoils’ production tooling. The April 13 announcement came after a standoff with San Antonio’s M7 Aerospace over the value of the only existing tooling ended months of failed negotiation.
German police arrested AvCraft Aviation CEO Ben Bartel last Wednesday at Frankfurt International Airport for tax evasion. Bartel, architect of a failed attempt to resurrect Germany’s Fairchild Dornier from bankruptcy, allegedly evaded €7 million ($8.53 million) in taxes through a fictitious transaction in the Cayman Islands.
German authorities have released AvCraft Aviation chairman Ben Bartel from jail some two weeks after sending him there on suspicion of tax evasion.
AvCraft CEO Ben Bartel in late January announced the restart of Dornier 328JET production at the company’s plant in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, just outside Munich. Headquartered at Leesburg, Va., AvCraft one year ago acquired production rights for the 328/328JET and its corporate version, the Envoy 3, as well as for the stretched 428JET that might be developed later.
A cooling deficiency in Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW306B turbofan has forced the company to correct and recertify the design after turbine blades showed premature wear on several Fairchild Dornier 328JETs. A company spokeswoman told AIN that PW&C would perform the “upgrade” as operators turn in their airplanes for regular maintenance.
While those with an interest awaited word from Leesburg, Va.-based AvCraft about when it would get its German assembly line rolling, another curious development involving local officials and businessmen in South Carolina raised questions about the status of the company’s Myrtle Beach maintenance base.
AvCraft Aviation announced it will restart the former Fairchild Dornier 328JET production line in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Under the plan, the first completed 30-seat 328JET is expected to roll off the production line by the fourth quarter. According to AvCraft CEO Ben Bartel, the company has sold all but two of 18 white-tail aircraft inherited when AvCraft purchased the Fairchild Dornier 328 program last year.