The wings have fallen off the Fokker/Samsung deal

Kevin O'Toole/LONDON

Fokker's administrators have called a halt to the Samsung rescue plan and admit that the chances of saving the bankrupt Dutch manufacturer are now "extremely small".

The decision was taken after the South Korean company failed to meet a final deadline to restart Fokker at the end of October and the subsequent announcement by Shorts that it would therefore dismantle the wing-assembly lines for the Fokker regional jets.

The administrators say that it is still feasible that a new rescue plan could be put in place on the basis of the wings being built elsewhere, but admit that this is unlikely. "The chances that the Fokker programmes could survive on the basis of such a plan must be regarded as extremely small," they warn.

Samsung had emerged as a potential rescuer shortly after Fokker's bankruptcy filing in March and went on to present a full business plan in September which involved a partnership with the Dutch Government and engineering group Stork.

The aim was to restart aircraft production by the end of October, but problems arose after the South Korean Government announced that the transaction would require its approval and have to involve participation from other of the country's industrial groups. The administrators say that there was also insistence that the take-over would have to "-further the South Korean Government's aim of developing a new 100-seat aircraft".

Sources close to the negotiations also suggest that there were differences of opinion within Samsung over the cost and risks involved in the venture.

Shorts president Roy McNulty says that, with no end to the negotiations in view, his company was left with no alternative but to begin filling up the empty factory space left by the end of the Fokker wing-work.

The last of the present wing sets are due to be delivered by around 6 December and Shorts is planning to use the space for new aerostructures work coming from within the Bombardier group.

McNulty adds that Shorts would be prepared to store the Fokker tooling for the next few months and to assist in moving the line to another company. "We're prepared to do everything necessary to help Fokker other than make available final assembly," he says.

Source: Flight International