Fairchild Dornier plans to launch a $500-million programme for a 70-seat regional jet next April, with first deliveries earmarked within 39 months of programme's go-ahead.

The company says it will raise half of the development costs, with the remainder being picked up by risk-sharing partner and sub-contractors.

"We have been approached and we have approached. We are in full swing now," says Peter Klonk, Fairchild Dornier's vice-president of sales.

Klonk says the launch of the 728JET programme will depend on getting letters of intent for between 100 and 150 aircraft.

A decision has yet to be made whether the cabin will have a four- or five-abreast seating.

He says the advantage of a five-abreast plan is that it would be easy to stretch the aircraft to a 90-seater derivative.


However, he admits that if Boeing decides to continue long-term production of the MD-95 airliner and develop a smaller variant of it, then Fairchild Dornier would have to rethink its plans.

"We would not compete with Boeing. If you build an aircraft that is stretchable to 90 seats, then you are in competition with the MD-95. So we must find some sort of agreement."

Lufthansa Cityline, Crossair and Eurowings have indicated interest in the aircraft. Klonk says other 70-seat jets under development do not meet their needs.

Fairchild Dornier is considering engine options from Allison, BMW Rolls-Royce, General Electric and Snecma, but the GE CF34 is described as the front-runner.

UThe company is also considering also building a 40-seater jet.

Its current project, the 30-seater 328JET, is said to be on track for roll-out in December and first flight on 20 January.

The company has 14 firm orders and options for the aircraft.


Source: Flight Daily News