SAAB AIRCRAFT is hoping to complete development and certification of a passenger/cargo combi version of its Saab 2000 turboprop by the end of 1996, in an effort to boost flagging sales.

The Swedish manufacturer is proposing two different basic combi configurations. The aircraft can be configured typically for either 39 seats at a 812mm pitch and 16.4m3 (580ft3) of freight, or 16 passengers and a 29.6m3 aft cargo compartment.

Its layout can be changed through the use of a moveable cargo bulkhead. The smaller of the two freight options will be able to accommodate three containers and up to 3,000kg of cargo. With the bulkhead moved forward of the emergency over-wing exits, this can be increased to up to seven containers or pallets.

No additional strengthening of the Saab 2000's floor is required, and the combi would use the existing rear fuselage cargo door.

Saab is understood to be targeting Canadian operator Calm Air as a 2000 combi launch customer. The Winnipeg-based regional carrier already holds options on two Saab 2000s, placed with an earlier order for two 340B Plus aircraft.

The company is keen to launch the combi, as part of a wider push to increase its 2000 order book. Sales to date total 38 aircraft, including five orders booked in 1995. Some 25 aircraft have been delivered since the first turboprop entered service with Crossair in 1994.

Efforts are being concentrated on, converting 25 Saab 2000 options held by American Eagle (AMR Eagle) into a firm order. Saab officials are confident of securing a deal before the AMR Eagle options expire in July.

It is also working, to win a follow-on order for another 25 Saab 340B Plus aircraft, for AMR Eagle as replacements for leased ATR 42s. They are in addition to 25 ordered in June 1995 to replace a similar number of early-build 340As.

The ex-AMR Eagle aircraft are being offered to Northwest Airlink operator Mesaba to replace its Fairchild Metros and de Havilland Dash 8s.

Source: Flight International