FAIRCHILD DORNIER chairman and chief executive Carl Albert says that there is "no question" about a go-ahead for a 30-seat turbofan version of the Dornier 328 turboprop. "We'll launch it before the end of the year," he says, promising also that a 50-seat stretched version will be launched "about 12 months later".

The aim, he says, is to offer a "family" of regional-jet aircraft with common type-ratings, excellent field performance and "lower operating costs than anything in the same class". He adds that the Dornier 328-300 will also have the "widest cabin" of any 30-seater. It will be the first jet aircraft in the class since the Yakovlev Yak-40.

The choice of engines has been widened from the original three (Pratt & Whitney Canada's PW306/1, General Electric's CFE738 and AlliedSignal's LF507-1F), to include the Allison AE3007.

Fairchild Dornier insists that the change from turboprop to turbofan can be achieved "without any structural changes", although the take-off weight will be slightly higher because of the extra fuel necessary for the higher-specific-fuel-consumption turbofan. "We are confident we can stay within the 15-tonne threshold for navigation charges in the USA," says Fairchild Dornier marketing vice-president Josef Simmerl.

Acquisition cost of the re-engined aircraft, says Simmerl, will be around $10 million for the 30-seater, against $9.75 million for the turboprop aircraft, and $13.5 million for the larger aircraft.

Fairchild Dornier has ruled out the idea of retrofitting existing aircraft with turbofans. "We looked at it, but it was not cost effective," says Simmerl.

Source: Flight International