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HAL considers taking over assembly of Fokker 50

Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) is considering an approach to the Dutch receivers of Fokker Aircraft to acquire the design, marketing rights, tools and jigs for the Fokker 50 turboprop airliner.

The Indian aerospace company's chairman R N Sharma says that an earlier approach to buy the programme was rebuffed when Fokker initially went bankrupt earlier this year, because the receivers wanted to keep the company together. Now, with the changed circumstances, Sharma says: "We may try and make the offer again."

The HAL chairman reckons that, with the low-cost production infrastructure in place, the company can break even on sales of around 80 turboprop aircraft in the 50-seat class.

HAL was boosted at the Aero India 96 show in Bangalore earlier this month when the Indian prime minister pledged over $200 million in state funding to the company to acquire the ability to build a 50-seater locally and take a share in building structures for a 100-seat regional jet. Sharma says that he has been directed by the Government to start negotiations in 1997.

Over the last four years, talks have been held for licence production of the Bombardier de Havilland Dash 8, the AI(R) ATR 42 and the Fokker 50. "Although it had been originally indicated that the Canadians were not interested in a co-production deal, we will have to restart evaluation of all the contenders," says Sharma. Russian Government officials in Bangalore say that they will also be approaching HAL to try and interest it in various programmes.

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