FAIRCHILD AIRCRAFT will decide by late July whether to launch a version of its Metro 23 19-seat regional airliner with a "stand-up" cabin. The aircraft would be available 24 months after launch, says chairman Carl Albert.

The cabin would be stretched vertically, to give the same 1.8m aisle height as that of the competing Raytheon Beech 1900D. Otherwise the aircraft would be unchanged. The drag increase would be minimal, he says, reducing cruise speed by just 3kt (1.6km/h).

Fairchild hopes that the revised cabin will revive flagging sales of the Metro. The new aircraft would be produced alongside the current Metro 23 and Albert expects it to be a bigger seller than the existing aircraft "in the long term".

Raytheon Aircraft, meanwhile, is looking at improving the 1900D, now the best-selling 19-seater - the 65 delivered in 1995 represented 90% of the market. Changes would be aimed at reducing operating cost, says vice-president for airline sales Mike Scheidt.

"The 19-seat market is pretty vibrant," he says, with activity on sales leads "-as high as it has ever been". The market is shifting away from the USA, Scheidt acknowledges, citing "numerous emerging markets", including those of Latin America, the Pacific Rim and the CIS.

Source: Flight International