AvCraft Aviation has given Texas-based M7 Aerospace just weeks to agree to supply wing tooling for the reborn Fairchild Dornier 328JET programme. If not, chief executive Ben Bartel says AvCraft will source the equipment from one of three European manufacturers and may build the wings itself alongside the assembly line in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

The company is, meanwhile, considering restarting the stalled 428JET stretch programme.

M7 has so far refused to sell the tooling, after it took over the assets of the Fairchild Dornier San Antonio-based subsidiary that had manufactured the 328JET's wings. Bartel says time is running out. "We have to pull the trigger in the next few weeks," he says.

AvCraft plans to begin deliveries of new-build 33-seat aircraft - which will be rebranded the Dornier 328JET - in the final quarter and has agreements "more or less in place" with other former suppliers, including Aermacchi, which makes the fuselage, avionics supplier Honeywell and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Canada. Avcraft hopes to deliver two aircraft this year and 18 in 2005. The first five are likely to be the partially built aircraft inherited by AvCraft when it bought the business in 2002 and for which it has wings in stock.

It has delivered eight of 18 328JET-310 whitetails which were also part of the purchase, all to Hainan Airlines in China. In addition, the deal included two of the lower weight -300s and a 328 turboprop, as well as nine used aircraft: two 328JET-300s and seven turboprops, production of which ended in 1999. Bartel says all remaining 22 aircraft are "spoken for".

Bartel says half its 40 orders are for Envoy business jets or Executive Shuttles, or special-mission patrol aircraft, for which it has three orders from undisclosed customers and is in negotiations with 12 others.

The 428JET, if relaunched, could use partners in countries with which US manufacturers have offset agreements for defence equipment.

Source: Flight International