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Rekkof 'ready' to resurrect Fokker jet line

Rekkof Restart will make a final decision on 24 September whether to revive production of Fokker 100 and Fokker 70 regional jets.

The decision hinges on the results of an economic assessment on the impact the gathering global economic problems will have on the project. The study is being carried out for the Swiss-based trust which plans to finance the project.

If production is relaunched, Rekkof will establish Rekkof Aircraft, a company employing 400 people to manufacture and sell the aircraft. First deliveries are due in the second quarter of 2000.

Rekkof says it has a contract from one airline, has signed two memoranda of understanding and has three letters of intent covering a total of over 20 aircraft.

According to the Dutch company's founder and managing director, Jaap Jacobson, Rekkof aims to build 24 aircraft a year, financed by a long-term loan from a Swiss trust comprising Jacobson and a group of anonymous private investors. The production risks of the project are being covered by a Swiss insurance company.

Jacobson declines to name the company's potential customer airlines, although Rekkof confirms that they come largely from existing Fokker 100 operators.

Doubts continue to exist, with some in the industry about the credibility of the programme. "I do not see new operators buying that aircraft because it will have an unpredictable residual value," says one senior industry official.

Unlike Fokker, Rekkof will not engage in risk-sharing partnerships in the production of the aircraft. Instead, Jacobson says that Rekkof has negotiated supplier agreements with former Fokker suppliers and several new partners.

Rolls-Royce will continue to supply powerplants for the aircraft, while the wings will now be built by Aerostructures Hamble instead of Shorts of Belfast. Eurocopter Deutschland, Pfalz Flugzeugwerke and Aircraft Services Lemwerder will produce various fuselage sections, while one fuselage section will be built by Rekkof itself at Schiphol.

The fuselage centre section, parts of the forward fuselage, the rudder and various smaller components will be built by Stork and Fokker Aerostructures, while SABCA of Belgium will deliver the tail section of the aircraft and the horizontal stabiliser.

Forward Aircraft, a company backed by a group of private Dutch investors, including Frits Philips of the Philips electronics family, is planning to resurrect the Fokker 50 and 60 turboprops for military applications.

Managing director Wichard de Waard says production at Schiphol could begin in 18 months time if at least 36 orders are received. The plan foresees a production rate of 12 aircraft a year.

The design rights to the aircraft are now owned by the Netherlands Government.

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