Fairchild Dornier aims to complete critical design reviews (CDR) of all 728JET subassemblies and systems by the end of November as it gears up for the start of production of the 70-80-seat regional airliner.

The Munich-based manufacturer meanwhile hopes to reach a settlement with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) over the cancellation of the 428JET programme, in which the Israeli company was to have played a major role.

To be frozen during the next 10 weeks are the fuselage, EADS (Spain) wing and empennage, Hamilton Sundstrand electrical system, BFGoodrich landing gear, Honeywell secondary FCS and environmental control system and GE engine controls.

Some parts of the 728JET secondary structure are already in production, and first metal will be cut on primary fuselage and wing structure later this month. Final assembly is due to get under way in mid-2001, with the wing-body join of the first prototype planned for August of that year.

Following two 728JET programme delays, the aircraft is expected to enter service in July 2003. First flight is scheduled for the first quarter of 2002.

As the CDRs are completed, engineers assigned to the 728JET will be progressively transferred to the 928JET stretch, design of which is due to begin in November. The 95-110-seater has a service-entry target date of early 2005.

Wolf says the main problem to be resolved on the 728JET is excess weight, with the design still "in the area of 5%above where we want to be". A decision on whether to increase the maximum take-off weight will be taken after production of the initial prototypes.

Meanwhile, IAI has submitted to Fairchild a damages claim for an unspecified sum relating to termination of the 44-seat 428JET programme. The Israeli company was to have designed and manufactured the aircraft's fuselage, performed final assembly and assumed responsibility for certification.

IAI civil aircraft division general manager Motti Bones hopes that the claim can be settled out of court. "Their decision took us by surprise and it created a certain vacuum in our design department," he says.

One possible outcome could be the award to IAI of a substantial work package on the 928JET.

Additional reporting by Arie Egozi in Tel Aviv.

Source: Flight International