Air Transport World

Feng-shui for 100-seater? (favorable characteristics of proposed Asian jet)

Chinese-Korean split over twinjet and appearance of Singaporeans highlight Asian Aerospace '96

SINGAPORE--Discussions of the proposed "Asian Express" 100-seat jet dominated the proceedings here at last month's Asian Aerospace '96, as competitors sought the combination of ingredients maximizing the feng-shui, or favorable characteristics, of the program structure. Even the traditional air show histrionics of Airbus and Boeing were pushed off center stage and the travails of Fokker took a definite back seat. New light was cast on the Asian jet project but much remained in the shadows as a changing array of players both East and West rendered the situation as uncertain on the show's last day as on the first. Most significant was a major rift between the original partners, South Korea and the People's Republic of China, that well could result in the development of rival 100-seat jets. Additionally, Indonesia claims to be launching its own 100-seat jet project. The disagreement is on fundamental issues: Leadership and location. China insists on a lead role in what it calls the Asian Express and that the AE-100 be built exclusively in China. This came as surprise to Korea's Samsung, which believed it was an equal in the program and that some assembly would take place in Korea. One Korean official told ATW that the Chinese had treated his company badly, "dictating terms," rather than behaving like partners. His personal feeling was that Samsung would pursue its 100-seat jet program with other nations.

The availability of Fokker led many to consider Samsung a leading candidate for salvation of the Dutch company as a leg up into the transport business outside Chinese participation.

China meanwhile, is describing the AE-100 as "the largest international cooperative program in the history of Chinese civil aircraft." The airplane eventually will be transformed into a family, ranging roughly from 85 to 138 seats.

The Civil Aircraft Master Design Dept. of Aviation Industries of China (AVIC) reported that it entered "the critical phase of its feasibility study and discussions have been focused on work shares, facility update and regulation formulation. …

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