Paul Lewis/TAIPEI

TAIWAN AEROSPACE (TAC) still hopes to participate in an international regional aircraft project, and is continuing to hold discussions with British Aerospace, despite the collapse of its planned RJ aircraft joint venture with Avro.

"BAe is still an important player with its RJ, and TAC still wants to get involved in a programme," says TAC president George Liu. He adds that more talks were held with BAe as recently as July.

The focus of discussions has been scaled down from the final assembly of aircraft in Taiwan to the manufacture of either sub-assemblies or components. Discussions have also been broadened to include Daimler Benz's Fokker Aircraft and the Boeing New Small Aeroplane project, according to Liu.

Long-running talks between BAe and TAC over plans to establish a joint venture company to produce regional jets in Taiwan and the UK finally petered out early in 1994, although they were never formally broken off.

According to Taiwanese sources, the talks collapsed as a result of BAe's reluctance to commit to the follow-on RJX twinjet, together with doubts about the financial viability of local RJ assembly and aircraft leasing.

BAe, for its part, had privately complained over the lack of understanding of the technical aspects of the venture and frequent changes of heart by TAC.

Participation in a regional-aircraft programme is one of five core aerospace activities planned by TAC, explains Liu, the others being aircraft maintenance, parts manufacturing, partnerships in helicopter and business aircraft design and development.

TAC has acquired a 95% share of Taiwan-based aircraft maintenance company Air Asia, while its Taichung machine operation is already producing radar, centre and aft fuselage bulkheads and wing joints for Taiwan's Indigenous Defence Fighter.

The company, together with the Aero Industry Development Centre, recently took a 6.2% share in the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter programme. It will be responsible for the detailed design and production of the helicopter's cockpit.

TAC is also finalising its $46 million joint venture with Swearingen to build the SJ30 business jet. The company wants to build the aircraft's fuselage - and possibly its wing - in Taiwan.

It faces strong competition, however, from Teledyne, Ryan's proposed Mexican production site.

Source: Flight International