FARNBOROUGH: Fokker 120 edges closer to go-ahead

Farnborough
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Long-running plans to resurrect production of the Fokker 100 twinjet appear to be gaining momentum as the Netherlands Aircraft Company works on securing the financing and supply chain partners to launch the aircraft, dubbed the F120NG.

“We are not going to give a timetable or timeline at this stage, but the fact that we are sharing more details here at Farnborough demonstrates we are confident the funding is imminent and the project will make significant steps in the coming few months,” chief executive Maarten Van Eeghen tells Flightglobal.

The plan is to produce a new-build 125- or 130-seater that is a stretch of the basic Fokker 100 design, says chief engineer Rudi den Hertog. The only physical change to the airframe are to the wing, which will feature slightly more span, winglets and some “tweaks” to the wing profile.

The F120NG will be powered by Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1X17G, which is essentially the same engine that has been developed for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet and is rated at 17,600lb thrust. Netherlands Aircraft Company has worked with P&W on the F120NG project and the engine maker has signed off the engine-airframe integration, says den Hertog.

Mating P&W’s geared turbofan with the lightweight Fokker 100 airframe produces a competitive aircraft in this size category that burns 50% less fuel per seat than the original F100, claims Netherlands Aircraft Company. “The aircraft is uniquely positioned, complementing the Airbus and Boeing fleets, covering the entire 90 to 150-seat segment with the lowest seat mile and trip cost,” says Van Eeghen.

Netherlands Aircraft Company is acutely aware that the project, which has been more than a decade in the making and subject to a couple of false starts, has its doubters. “This programme has matured over the last year, and promises to have a substantial competitive edge over current and projected players,” says Van Eeghen.

The F120NG will compete with Bombardier’s CSeries and Embraer’s E2.

Final assembly of the F120NG will take place in the Netherlands. Discussions with potential suppliers are taking place at the Farnborough air show, says den Hertog. A nacelle supplier has been selected but not announced, and talks are under way with two avionics suppliers.

The earliest the F120NG could enter service is 2019, based on a five-year development and testing programme from when it obtains the official go-ahead.

Netherlands Aircraft Company is 100% owned by Dutch group Panta Holdings, which has a variety of interests in airlines and aviation services companies.