Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

Bombardier Aerospace Shorts has removed a major obstacle to the restart of Fokker airliner production by finally agreeing to sell to the Dutch company's trustees the tools, equipment and drawings it has held as the wing producer.

Belfast, Northern Ireland-based Shorts was a risk sharing partner in the Fokker programme for some years before Fokker closed in June 1996. The Canadian-owned company has been accused of delaying the restart of Fokker 70 and 100 production by about six months by refusing to sell equipment needed to produce the wings.


Industry sources say that Bombardier was reluctant to help re-introduce the 70 and 100 seat airliners because they would clash with Bombardier Aerospace's own CRJ-700, now in development. The company declines to comment.

The Fokker trustees - four Dutch lawyers - have been holding talks with Bombardier for over a year. Aircraft production, originally planned to begin earlier this year, could be restarted by early 1999.

Fokker Services, the product support arm for existing Fokker aircraft, will take over control from the trustees on 1 July and will then transfer responsibility to Rekkof (Fokker spelt backwards) Restart.

Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Rekkof is believed to have finance and suppliers and is ready to begin manufacture. UK-based Aerostructures Hamble may take on the wing, but this is not confirmed.

The Dutch company claims that it has about 40 letters of intent for the regional jets.

Source: Flight International