Regional-aircraft manufacturer Fairchild Dornier has secured the first sales of its new 32-seat 328Jet derivative of the Dornier 328 turboprop with two separate orders.

The first firm order for six aircraft has come from Dijon-based regional carrier Proteus Airlines. A second order for four aircraft with four options has come from Dallas, Texas-based Dornier 328 operator Aspen Mountain Air/Lone Star.

Proteus already flies four turboprop Dornier 328s, and president Franklin Deveaux says that the carrier has placed orders for three more, to be operated alongside its fleet of seven Beechcraft 1900Cs and two 1900Ds.

Aspen operates five 328s and six Fairchild Metros. The company is taking eight more 328s, returned by disgruntled operator Horizon Air, which in 1996 backed out of what was the largest order for the regional turboprop to date.

The first of the former Horizon aircraft was delivered on 10 June, with deliveries being completed in 1998. Deliveries of the 328Jet are to begin in 1999. The first 328Jet is scheduled to be rolled out in December 1997, with its maiden flight scheduled for January 1998.

Fairchild Dornier is to fix the design of the stretched 50-seat 528Jet in July, says programmes and aircraft development vice-president Earl Robinson.

The manufacturer is considering various configurations, including revolutionary designs with a completely new swept wing, possibly mounted low on the fuselage, and several different options for engine location.

Source: Flight International