When reports began circulating last month that Leesburg, Va.-based AvCraft Aviation had reached an agreement to buy Fairchild Dornier’s 328 production and associated support businesses in Germany, signs of a less-than-healthy state of affairs within AvCraft, particularly at its Tyler, Texas-based repair station, emerged as fast as disgruntled ex-employees could log onto their e-mail servers.
At the end of this year, 43-year-old Philippines-based aviator and entrepreneur Iren Dornier plans to fly a soon-to-be-restored Dornier Do-24 seaplane around the world.
The severe financial problems at Fairchild Dornier have left the Envoy 3 and 7 programs in doubt. Ironically (or perhaps intentionally), the 728 regional jet platform for the Envoy 7 was rolled out on March 21, just before the company filed for insolvency on April 2.
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.
When China’s D’Long Group announced last year it would buy the Fairchild Dornier 728 development program from bankruptcy administrators, many questioned the little known company’s ability to attract the estimated $1 billion investment needed for certification and series production.
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.
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.
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.
Chinese investment company D’Long confirmed that the development program for a 70- to 95-seat family of regional airliners acquired from the defunct Fairchild Dornier GmbH has been resurrected by its new subsidiary, Fairchild Dornier Aero Industries. Two FD 728 prototypes are currently being prepared for first flight later this year. JAA certification and start of production are scheduled for 2006.
Bankrupt regional aircraft manufacturer Avcraft Aerospace has been bought by UK Corporate Jet Services, parent company of Southampton-based executive charter operator Club328. The new owner will not be resuming aircraft production, but will instead run Avcraft as a support organization for existing Dornier 328 jet and turboprop operators under the name 328 Support Services.