McDonnell Douglas has re-affirmed its commitment to the MD-95 regional twinjet as the nose section for the first aircraft was delivered to its Long Beach assembly site on 12 December.

Despite having received no new business since it was launched more than a year ago with an order for 50 from ValuJet Airlines, the company believes that market conditions are beginning to work in favour of the programme. John Wolf, vice president-general manager of the MD-95, says that confidence in the market is "extremely high".

Positive factors include pressure on availability around 1999 and 2000 caused, ironically, by the success of the next-generation 737, the failure of the efforts to resuscitate Fokker, and continuing uncertainty over other regional-jet plans.

Douglas Aircraft hopes that the pressure on availability will also influence prices, helping to make the target $20 million more attractive. Although ValuJet recently re-affirmed its commitment to the MD-95, the carrier is believed to be considering trading some of its delivery slots.

Production is meanwhile accelerating while design work is virtually complete. "We'll have 80% of the critical design reviews and 100% of the preliminary design reviews completed by the end of the year. In addition, all the major structures are in final assembly ready for going into the join process by the second quarter of 1997," Wolf says.

The first nose section was produced by McDonnell Douglas Aerospace at Huntingdon Beach, California, but subsequent noses will be made by Korean Air.

Source: Flight International