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NG Aircraft closes in on EU loan decision

NG Aircraft's plan to launch a modernised Fokker 100 twinjet could move forward as early as mid-September, when the company expects a European Union decision on whether to approve a Dutch government loan.

EU approval is required for the €20 million ($25.6 million) loan, part of the €90 million needed to get the programme off the ground and through the demonstrator phase.

A decision from Brussels had been expected in June, but NG director Maarten Van Eeghen says EU officials have been asking detailed questions before deciding whether to grant approval.

Van Eeghen says the queries are "nothing material", mainly relating to the original Fokker 100 programme and why the iconic Dutch manufacturer went out of business in 1995. "They want to have a good understanding of the history," Van Eeghen says.

He adds that the slower than expected process has not yet resulted in any delays to the programme timetable, which calls for the first flight of the modernised aircraft to be made in early 2012. Technical work has been continuing behind the scenes over the summer, adds Van Eeghen.

NG is waiting for a decision from the EU before detailing major aspects of the programme, notably the engines that will replace the 107-seat Fokker 100's original Rolls-Royce Tay 620/650 powerplants and the location of the planned production line.

It says the quality of the original aircraft has resulted in persistent interest from carriers in reviving the design and believes that a modernised version with new engines, systems and winglets will reduce fuel-burn by 18% compared with the Embraer 190.

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