SilkAir of Singapore has begun evaluating formal proposals submitted by competing airframe and engine manufacturers for a replacement fleet of up to ten narrowbody passenger jets.

The Singapore Airlines-owned regional carrier is looking for a new family of 100- and 150-seat aircraft to replace its fleet of Boeing 737-300s and Fokker 70 twinjets. According to local sources, a final type selection could be made by the end of March.

Boeing is offering its next-generation 737-600/700/800 family, while Airbus Industrie has proposed the Airbus A319 and the larger A320. McDonnell Douglas is also believed to have submitted a bid based on its MD-90-30 and MD-95 twinjets.

Separate bids have also been submitted by competing engine manufacturers. CFMInternational is offering the CFM56-7 for the new 737 family and the -5 engine for the A320/319. International Aero Engines is also pitching the V2500-A5 and -D5 for the Airbus aircraft and the MD-90, respectively, while BMW Rolls-Royce is offering the BR715 to power the MD-95.

SilkAir is understood to want to begin taking delivery of the new aircraft from 1998 as replacements for airliners nearing the end of their leases. It already leases one 737 from Ansett Worldwide and both its 78-seat Fokker 70s from Daimler-Benz Aerospace.

The carrier recently concluded a sale and two-year leaseback deal with General Electric Capital (GECAS) for another two of its five 118-seat 737-300s. The airline will take delivery of a sixth 737-300 in March on a three-year operating lease from GECAS.

New, larger-capacity aircraft are needed to serve SilkAir's expanding regional network, spanning 21 destinations. It plans to launch new twice-weekly services in April to Davao in the Philippines and Balikpapan in Indonesia. SilkAir, in the meantime, has announced that Mak Swee Wah is to replace Michael Chan as general manager from mid-April.

Source: Flight International