South Korea and Taiwan have submitted competing tenders to Aero International (Regional) (AI(R)) for each to take up to a 40% stake in the planned AI(R) Jet 70 regional-aircraft programme.

Aerospace industry teams from both countries were invited to Toulouse in January to take part in AI(R)'s aerostructures conference. AI(R) has asked potential new risk- and revenue-sharing partners, along with its three founding partners, to bid on up to 13 separate work packages (Flight International, 29 January-4 February, P6).

A Samsung Aerospace-led delegation from the revitalised Korean Commercial Aircraft Development Consortium (KCADC) was in Toulouse this month to submit its tender. The consortium, which also consists of Daewoo Heavy Industries, Hyundai and Korean Air, seeks a stake of 30-40% in the 70-seat programme.

South Korean interest is understood to be primarily focused on producing part of the aircraft's main fuselage and empennage sub-assemblies. KCADC hopes to make use of an earlier Government offer to fund development of a national 100-seat-aircraft project to underwrite 50% of its planned investment in the AI(R) Jet 70.

Some disagreements still persist over the structure of KCADC however, which has still not yet been legally incorporated. Hyundai is demanding that it be an equal 25% partnership, but faces opposition from the other three companies. Daewoo, Korean Air and Samsung instead are each insisting on being given an equal 30% stake, with Hyundai relegated to junior position in the partnership, holding the remaining 10%.

Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development (AIDC) has also bid for the same work on the AI(R) Jet 70. AIDC is partnering French airframe-structure manufacturer Latecoere to compete for the work, according to Taiwan's Government-sponsored Committee for Aviation & Space Industry Development (CASID).

The recently restructured AIDC is seeking to attract more commercial work as production of Taiwan's Ching-Kuo fighter nears completion. AIDC partners McDonnell Douglas on the MD-95 programme, with responsibility for the empennage. CASID adds that Taiwanese involvement in the AI(R) Jet 70 could be extended to include financial support from Taiwan Aerospace.

Industry sources suggest that AI(R) will attempt to reach a compromise to keep South Korea and Taiwan in the programme, rather than choose between the two. Detailed negotiations are due to begin shortly, with the aim of launching the aircraft by mid-year - although the financial case for the aircraft has yet to convince all the AI(R) partners.

Source: Flight International