TURKISH AEROSPACE Industries (TAI) is looking for partners to help it develop a small commuter aircraft to open up regional routes within Turkey.

The company is now putting forward the 19-seat HD-19 fly-by-wire widebody commuter to meet a market demand which it believes will be created by the Turkish Government's initiative to open up 40 regional airports. General manager Jerry Jones says that TAI is "open to other ideas" from prospective partners, however.

TAI is owned 51% by the Turkish Government, 42% by Lockheed Martin and 7% by General Electric. It builds the Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter and CASA CN-235 military transport under licence.

Jones says that talks with the Turkish Government on funding the programme are "...very positive - we're where we want to be". He estimates the total development cost of the HD-19 at $200 million up to certification, and is asking for around half of this from the Government.

"We want a partner who is willing to invest," says Jones. Lockheed Martin has declined to put any money into the programme, "...because the business prospects are uncertain". He says that "between one and five years of financing" would be needed, adding that certification could occur in four years, and service entry in five, if the programme begins soon.

The twin-turboprop HD-19 would have an internal cabin height of 1.8m, a short-field capability, and a 230kt (425km/h) cruising speed. Fly-by-wire flight controls would benefit from "...our experience gained from the F-16", adds Jones.


Source: Flight International