Andrzej Jeziorski/LINKOPING

SWEDISH REGIONAL-turboprop manufacturer Saab Aircraft is in the early stages of talks to find a partner for a successor programme to its current range, the 35-seat Saab 340 and the 50-seat Saab 2000.

According to Saab Aircraft president Hans Kr_ger, the company aims to introduce a new model into the market by 2004, and is engaged in feasibility studies for a new aircraft, covering turboprop and turbofan options.

"We are studying both derivatives of our present aircraft, and a jet. As soon as we find a market, we will launch," says Kruger. The aircraft could be as big as a 70-seater. The programme will only go ahead with a suitable partner, adds Kruger, but the aircraft could be launched as early as 1998, says Saab operations chief Johan Oster.

At the same time, the company is carrying out a series of improvements to the Saab 2000, including modifications to ailerons - for a lower minimum control speed - and brakes, which will allow the aircraft to be landed inside 1,200m (3,900ft). The current landing-field-length requirement is 1,380m, says Hellstrand, although the aircraft has already been demonstrated at 1,200m.

According to vice-president of engineering Urban Hellstrand, the company also wants to increase the aircraft's glideslope on approach to allow airlines to operate the aircraft on services linking London City Airport to other European destinations. Aircraft approaching London City are flown at a 5.5¡ glide- slope, but 7.5¡ must be demonstrated for an aircraft to be cleared to operate there.

Saab says that these improvements will be certificated sometime during 1997.

Hellstrand says that the company is also now engaged in flight trials of a head-up display (HUD), allowing low-visibility landings down to Category IIIa minima. The development is being conducted in co-operation with Saab 2000 operator Crossair, which is allowing the trials to be carried out on one of its fleet aircraft.

The goal is to achieve a 50ft decision altitude and 200m visual range. Crossair is to fit its entire fleet with HUDs.

Source: Flight International