Crazy Fokkers: 100-Seat Airliner Market to Get More Crowded Thanks to Dutch Cash Injection
A group of investors which has been attempting to restart the long-dormant Fokker assembly lines for over a decade this weekend secured a $27 million (€20 million) development loan from the Dutch government, a vital step toward their goal of producing an updated version of the Fokker 100 jet. European Union regulators must sign off on the deal, but Dutch officials said they do not expect any setbacks.
Amsterdam-based Rekkof Aircraft (that’s “Fokker” spelled backwards if you’re keeping score at home) plans to use the financing to retrofit an existing Fokker 100 with new engines and electronics which will be used as a prototype of their brand new Fokker 100 NG aircraft. A successor to Rekkof, known as NG Aircraft, says it has been working on new designs of for 18 months. Promised upgrades include more fuel efficient engines, increased fuel capacity and fuel-saving winglets, among other improvements. If the original Fokker 100 fuselage design is used, the new aircraft will seat approximately 107 passengers.
Introduced in the mid-1980s, before the days of Canadair CRJ and Embraer ERJ regional jets congesting the skies, the Fokker 100 filled the 100-seater niche for dozens of airlines around the world, including American Airlines, US Airways and Midway Airlines in the United States. The surging popularity of these smaller, more efficient jets built by relative newcomers from the opposite side of the Atlantic, however, led to a swift reduction in sales of Fokker 70s and 100s. Inspired by the Wright Brothers’ demonstration flights in Paris, Anthony Fokker founded his namesake company during the advent of aviation in the early 20th century, and then built it into a player which would come to dominate the civil aviation industry in the decades leading up to World War II. Due in large part to the Fokker 100′s drop in popularity combined with a series of financing failures, the once proud aeronautics giant was forced to shut down in 1996.
It is with a healthy dose of irony, then, that current plans for the new 110-ish-seat Fokker 100NG see it coming to market in 2015, at approximately the same time as former Fokker nemesis Bombardier (which took over Canadair) will be launching its new 110-seat CSeries jets, and another enemy, Embraer, will have delivered hundreds more of its successful 80-122-seat E-jet line. With the addition of new offerings from Japan, China and Russia, the market could be approaching full saturation by the time the new-gen Fokkers are built in the mid-2010s. Here is a brief look at the crowded marketplace which the Fokker will be stepping into:
Embraer E-jets (Brazil): 80-122 seats. Already in service, hundreds delivered, hundreds of orders outstanding.
Bombardier CRJ1000 (Canada/US): 100 seats. First deliveries: 2011. 53 orders.
Bombardier CSeries (Canada/US): 110 to 130 seats. First deliveries: Late 2014. 90 orders.
Mitsubishi Regional Jet (Japan): 70-96 seats. First deliveries: 2014. 125 orders
Comac ARJ21 (China): 78-105 seats. First deliveries: 2010. 225 orders.
Sukhoi Superjet 100 (Russia): 75-95 seats. First deliveries: Late 2010. 225 orders.
This could get Fokking interesting.