AvCraft ramps up employee levels as it starts work on five partly-built airframes

Assembly work on Dornier 328Jets began at AvCraft Aerospace's Oberpfaffenhofen plant near Munich earlier this month, more than two years after production was halted in the wake of the Fairchild Dornier collapse.

The 328Jet programme was relaunched last year following its purchase by AvCraft from the liquidator. The deal included 18 whitetail 328Jets as well as five "work-in-progress" (WIP) airframes, which were partly built on the assembly line at the time of Fairchild's collapse.

"Ten of the 18 whitetails have been delivered, and we restarted assembly work on the five WIP aircraft at the beginning of June," says Wolfgang Walter, managing director of AvCraft's German facility. "We are gradually ramping up our employee levels from the 200 we had during the insolvency period as we prepare to start full production at the end of the year."

Walter adds that the overall staff level is now at 280 and "we should be employing a total of 300 by the end of the year".

The first WIP aircraft will be an Envoy corporate model, due for delivery to Bookajet in November. The last WIP aircraft will be handed over in February next year.

To relaunch series production, AvCraft must restart wing output. This will begin in November (Flight International, 20-26 April). Walter says it has interim contracts with key suppliers such as engine maker Pratt & Whitney Canada, as longer-term contracts are negotiated for the series-production aircraft.

Assembly of the first all-new production 328Jet will begin in January next year, and this aircraft - already allocated to a customer - will be delivered in June 2005.

"Our production rate is driven by the suppliers. We plan to deliver at least 12 aircraft next year and our goal is to increase to an annual rate of 18-24 aircraft," says Walter, adding that a maximum rate of 54 aircraft a year is achievable.

AvCraft has taken orders for 22 328Jets, with sales of a further 50 "under final negotiations".



Source: Flight International