Administrators are set to divide up bankrupt airframer Fairchild Dornier among US, Swiss and Russian bidders by year-end. The creditors' committee approved administrator Eberhard Braun's plans to sell the 328JET regional jet production line, and customer support for the existing 82-strong fleet, to the US manufacturer Avcraft and the investment group Dimeling Schreiber & Park. The administrator expects a Russian consortium led by Aviacor and Basic Element to take on the 728/928 programme and the Airbus component manufacturing business, while the Swiss company RUAG will buy the maintenance arm.

As he nears the end of a long bidding process, Rick Schreiber of Dimeling Schreiber & Park is reasonably confident, saying: "Our bid has been accepted, but we won't take anything for granted until we actually own the business."

Although the 328JET never matched the success of its rival, the Embraer ERJ-135, Schreiber blames poor management rather than the aircraft. "There is nothing particularly wrong with the 328JET line. The problem is marketing and financing," he says. He believes Fairchild Dornier's management was running too many operations at once. "All our attention will be on the 328JET, unlike Fairchild Dornier," he says.

Schreiber says two things counted against the 328JET: "Fairchild Dornier never had local and national government support like Bombardier and Embraer had. We will attempt to show why it is in the German government's interest." Uncertainty over the programme for the last year has also affected sales: "Airlines won't order aircraft until they know who will be the owner," he adds.

The line is unlikely to restart before mid-2003, as there are already over 20 328JETs stored at the plant, with no customers. New orders are not expected before the second half of 2003, says Schreiber.

Source: Flight International