Shanghai-based D'Long plans to target local airlines with 70-seat regional jet

Chinese conglomerate D'Long International Strategic Investment is eyeing 70-seat regional jet sales to Chinese airlines after buying the 728 programme from the administrator of the former Fairchild Dornier.

Administrator Schultze & Braun announced last week that D'Long would buy the 728 and says "the continuation of the programme is made possible by the transaction". Fairchild Dornier went into administration last year, just after the roll-out of the first 728 prototype in March 2002.

"There are some conditions still to be met, but nothing that I would call substantial - technical matters only," says administrator Eberhard Braun, adding that according to Fairchild Dornier's schedule, "it would take six months to a year for the completion of development. They must produce and test the test aircraft before starting production."

Shanghai-based D'Long says it hopes to sell aircraft to Chinese airlines, adding that it foresees joint production in China and Europe. "There will be big market demand in mainland China if we can provide a good product," it says.

Production dates have yet to be determined because "it depends on the outcome of negotiations with potential suppliers, product operators and engineering partners", says the company, adding that it bought the programme because it wanted "the technology, the know-how".

Privately owned D'Long was established in 1986 and has subsidiaries in the automotive, food and beverage, finance and building industries. Until now it has had no involvement in aviation.

The 728 sale comes as state-run China Aviation Industry I (AVIC I) continues work on development of its own 70- to 99-seat ARJ21 regional jet.

D'Long says it is "negotiating with partners of AVIC I, including Xian Aircraft, because they would be possible production partners for the 728 programme".

China's second state-owned manufacturing giant AVIC II last year signed an agreement with Embraer covering licence-production of ERJ-145 family regional jets in China.

Source: Flight International