Fairchild Dornier has unveiled plans to offer a corporate version of the 328JET regional airliner now under development, but declines to comment officially in the lead-up to the US National Business Aviation Association show, on 23-25 September.
The company is already believed to have reserved "several" early-delivery slots on the 328JET line for the corporate version. This apparently follows higher-than-expected levels of interest from companies considering the aircraft for corporate-shuttle duties.
Like the regional airliner, the 328JET corporate version will be powered by two 27kN (6,000lb)-thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306/9 turbofans. The first engine shipset is due to be delivered to the company in October. The maiden flight is planned for January 1998, with initial deliveries following in 1999.
The re-engined aircraft is expected to have a cruise speed of 375kt (690km/h) at 22,000ft (6,700m), compared with the standard 328-100 turboprop's 335kt. The jet is also believed to have a range of 1,650km (3,050nm) in regional configuration, with 34 seats, and is envisaged to be offered with longer range for the corporate version, with a low-density interior.
As with the airliner derivative, Fairchild Dornier is expected to play its low-price card to the full with its new contender. It is believed to be offering the business-jet version for under $12 million, with a $1.4 million interior. A total of ten firm orders for the 328JET has been announced, from French carrier Proteus Airlines and Aspen Mountain Air/Lone Star of Texas.