Andrew Mollet/TOKYO

The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) is reviewing plans to order additional Saab 2000 flight-inspection aircraft, in the wake of the Swedish firm's announcement that it is considering ceasing production of civil turboprops.

Japan has already ordered two Saab 2000s for delivery in late 1998 and was planning to fund the purchase of a third turboprop in fiscal year 1998/9 and two more in the following two years. "We are looking at the situation very carefully," says a senior JCAB official.

With Japanese budgetary requests for 1998 now in the final stages of approval, the JCAB must decide soon whether or not to cancel the third aircraft. "That decision will almost certainly carry through to the remaining two aircraft, even though they are not due for purchase until 1999-2001," adds the official.

Saab is continuing to negotiate with the JCAB and is believed to have suggested it should advance its planned incremental purchase. In a move which does not bode well for future orders, the transport-ministry agency has cancelled plans to buy a Saab 2000 flight simulator after earlier having issued an advertisement for tender.

In the meantime, further evidence is accumulating that the Swedish company is preparing to halt airframe production with the news from New Delhi that it has withdrawn its bid to supply the Indian Airlines subsidiary Alliance with up to five aircraft.

After a lengthy evaluation period, Indian Airlines is believed to have been about to decide between the Saab 2000, the Bombardier de Havilland Dash 8 and the Aero International Regional ATR 42 for a 50-seat turboprop.

Since Saab's announcement that it was considering pulling out of airframe manufacture to concentrate on aerostructures and product support work, it has landed a large Saab 340 order from Mesaba and is close to completing a Saab 2000 order with Crossair.

Source: Flight International