British Aerospace, Fairchild Dornier, Raytheon Aircraft and several regional airlines have rallied to the defence of the 19-seater market, a sector branded by US analysts as "dead or dying".

Raytheon predicts a steady world market for its Beech 1900D which Mike Scheidt, vice-president for airline sales, predicts will be produced "into the foreseeable future". According to the Kansas-based manufacturer says, between 90 and 120 used and new 1900s will be handled by Beech every year until after 2000. "Our data show the 19-seater market is pretty healthy. We see an annual need for at least 36 new 19-passenger aircraft for the next five to ten years," the company insists.

Mesa Air Group, a big 19-seater operator, says: "The case for 19-seaters is frequency and trip costs." Larger turboprops have higher trip costs and their use leads to decreases in frequency. "This reduces market stimulation," Mesa adds. "For these reasons, we do not believe that the 19-seaters are to become extinct any time soon."

British Aerospace, which is no longer building new Jetstream 31s, supports the view that the 19-seater market is alive and well. Dewi Rowlands, vice-president for sales and marketing at BAe Asset Management Turboprops (AMT) says: "I contend that the 19-seat market is coming around again." AMT, which has 117 Jetstream 31s and 152 Jetstream 32s in its portfolio, had a record year in 1996, with 139 transactions, most of which were for 19-seaters.

Fairchild Dornier, which still produces the Metro 23 and Dornier 228 at low rates, says that 19-seaters "-will preserve their residual market value because they'll be with us indefinitely".

The company concedes, however, that "-market demand for new 19-seaters is likely to be small", whereas the demand for used aircraft will be high.

Source: Flight International