FAIRCHILD DORNIER has set itself a target of 1 April to launch its proposed 70-seat regional-jet. It is in talks with potential partners about taking a share of up to 50% in the programme.

Peter Klonk, vice-president of sales, says that the programme go-ahead depends on whether the company can find some accommodation with Boeing and Airbus over their plans in the regional market.

Programme costs are estimated at $500 million, with partners picking up around $250 million and Fairchild Dornier - helped by the German Government - finding the rest. Klonk he does not foresee Daimler-Benz Aerospace, which holds 20% of the company, taking a stake.

Development of the 728JET would take 39 months, with the first flight set for the first quarter of 2000 and certification pencilled in for the third quarter of 2001.

Klonk says that the programme needs letters of intent for at least 100 aircraft before launch.

Lufthansa, Crossair and Eurowings are among those to have been consulted on the 728JET's design. Klonk says that Fairchild Dornier expects to take a 20% share of the market with an aircraft planned to have a price tag of just over $20 million per unit.

No decision has been taken on whether to go for four- or five-abreast seating - a move in favour of the former would lend itself to development of a 50-seater, while the latter would lend itself to a 90-seater, says Klonk.

Fairchild Dornier says that it has been using the General Electric CF-34-8C as its reference engine, giving the aircraft a range of 2,200km (1,200nm), a maximum take-off weight of 33,000kg and a cruise speed of Mach 0.76. Engine selection has not yet been made.

While the German-based company aspires to beat rivals like Embraer and Aero International (Regional) into the 70-seat market, it continues to make good progress on building the first 328JET.

The 30-seat turbofan development of the 328 turboprop is on schedule for first flight on 20 January. A 42-seater development is likely to follow two years after introduction of the turboprop. Earlier plans to go to a 50-seat version of the 328JET have been cancelled.

Source: Flight International