Manufacturer confirms plans to produce five aircraft by 2003, with first deliveries to Lufthansa Cityline

Fairchild Dornier has begun final assembly of the first 728JET regional jet. Early next month, the company will break ground on a new production facility at Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany.

Work on the stretched 928JET, meanwhile, is progressing, with the start of low-speed windtunnel tests and completion of a preliminary design review due by year-end.


The lead prototype is to be structurally complete by December, when power will be turned on in preparation for a first flight in March. It will be followed at one-month intervals by a second flight test aircraft, a third airframe for static load testing and the last two flying prototypes.

The company plans to produce a fifth production standard aircraft by next summer, after which there will be a gap in manufacturing until it can complete a new digitally-designed final assembly hall and adjoining customisation, housing up to four docks. The company confirms plans to produce five 728JETs in 2003, for delivery to Lufthansa CityLine in July that year. Output will then increase to 47 aircraft in 2004 and 90 in 2005.

The manufacturer has been working to claw back the 400kg (880lb) from the empty weight of initial production aircraft. "We've made some design and system changes to get that weight back," says Fairchild.

Most structural subassemblies have been delivered to Fairchild, including the wing from EADS Casa and nose section from Sabca. The remaining major components comprising the EADS Casa-built empennage, Goodrich main landing gear and Honeywell auxiliary power unit and housing are expected to be delivered by November, with General Electric CF34-8D powerplants following in December. The Fairchild-built upper fuselage is being mated with the centre wingbox.

"We're working on stuffing the fuselage with electrical, hydraulic and flight control systems and joining with the wing in October/November," says Duncan Koerbel of the Fairchild 728/928- JET/Envoy 7 programme office.

The 728JET iron bird has been running since November last year, which Fairchild hopes will enable it to cut 150h-200h off the development and certification flight test programme in the next 18 months.

The iron bird will be modified to 928JET configuration, featuring 10m2 (107ft2) extra wing area, new landing gear and the more powerful CF34-10D engine.

The US Federal Aviation Administration and European Joint Aviation Authorities are to hold the first 928JET certification joint meeting this week, with Fairchild aiming to deliver the first 110-seat aircraft in early 2005.

Source: Flight International