Air Transport World

Development continues among airframe, engine manufacturers.(includes specifications on various developmental and in-service airframes and engines)

Development continues among airframe, engine manufacturers

It has been another dynamic year for the commuter/regional airline industry. Acquisitions have been running rampant--both vertically and horizontally; 1985's dominant marketing tool, code-sharing agreements, increased to about 70; there has been a shift from individual hub competition to contention between different hubs with overlapping route structures. Examples are: Air Midwest (American Eagle) at Nashville vying for many passengers sought by Republic Express at Memphis. The same competition occurs between Piedmont (partners CCAir and Henson) at Charlotte, and Delta (ASA) and Eastern (Metro Express) at Atlanta.

And, like last year, demand for new equipment continues unabated. Commuter /regional aircraft manufacturers took about 400 new orders in 1985. The 1986 total may well exceed that figure.

But there are indications of a shift away from the so-called "new-generation' commuterliners. While many builders focus efforts on selling these 30-50-seaters, others shifted their attention to stretches of existing programs. A few chose instead to concentrate their future-program hopes on smaller sized products than their latest projects.

The result: A resurgence of research & development in the under-30-seat arena, spurred on by several disparate factors. First, industry forecasts point to a continuing market well into the next decade for 100-125 19-seat machines annually. Recent history supports these forecasts, with airliner sales of this capacity exceeding 100 units each in the past two years.

Fleet flexibility most important

Concentration of feed networks around various hubs demand frequent service, with fleet flexibility the key to profitability-- shifting aircraft size to match market demand. Evolving to meet such competitive demands, several carriers aimed at fleets built around just two types--one a 19-seater, the other type a 30-40-seater. This practice contributed to the sales successes of both types in 1984 and 1985.

Second, impending regulatory changes make today the most opportune time to develop new 19-seat airframes. In 1991 Special Federal Aviation Regulation Part 41 expires. This rule allows formerly Part-23-only airplanes to fly in scheduled passenger service at higher gross weights and the carriage of 19 passengers, rather than just 12 allowed by Part 23. The Regional Airline Association's 1986 Annual Report lists eight models from five manufacturers certificated under SFAR 41.

More importantly, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to issue a revised FAR Part 23 soon, with a new treatment for 19-seat regional airliners. Once SFAR 41 expires, aircraft sold for use in revenue service will have to meet the revised Part 23 or the more-stringent FAR 25, which governs all airliners seating more than 19 passengers. Some pundits go so far as to christen the revised Part 23 as "the new commuter rule.'

There is little interest in the larger turboprop projects, based on sales of the over-50-seat transports. Operators seem unconvinced that the economies of a single regional airliner of such capacity offsets the loss of frequency available from two smaller machines.

Finally, engine manufacturers have their own share of on-going development projects, with General Electric, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Garrett all advancing variants of their current products. Also there are efforts involving G.E. and Rolls-Royce, G.E. and Garrett on the GE27/38 program, and Rolls' own program to replace the venerable Dart. The overall picture shows all the signs of a healthy, innovative industry.

With all this as background, turn your attention to Assistant Editor Lisa Henderson's special report on Commuter/Regional Airframes and Engines. Under "Developmental Airframes' you'll find two 19-seat development programs: the Jetstream 31 Enhanced and the Embraer EMB-123. Information on variants of existing designs also appears.

More programs

One model listed as developmental last year graduated to in-service for the 1986 listing: the Aerospatiale/Aeritalia ATR 42. The developmental section showed a net gain of four programs, from 10 in 1985 to 15 this year. The in-service section details 35 different transports, making this year's report the largest ever at 50 airliners.

Embraer expects, at this writing, the final nod from the Brazilian government for the proposed EMB-123, which should be flying by 1989. British Aerospace, too, plans something new for the Jetstream 31, "enhancing' it with expanded baggage space and a new boarding door forward of the wing.

Interestingly, both the EMB-123 and the Enhanced Jetstream appear destined for Part 25 treatment, despite the availability of revised Part 23 guidelines.

The same can't be said yet for Fairchild Aircraft's Metro III follow-on, nor for Beech Aircraft's 1900 airliner. (Although these programs don't appear in the following developmental airframe report, both companies acknowledge to ATW that expected rule changes will force additional developments.) Fairchild executives say that the "new-generation' Metro "whatever' will stay Part 23. Beech sources say the company plans to rework the 1900 to the extent required by the revised Part 23.

Market forces helped push BAe and Dornier to consider stretching, respectively, the Jetstream 31 and the DO 228. BAe's Jetstream 41 and Dornier's DO 328 both aim for the 26-27 seat range. Both will probably wind up sharing the same Garrett TPE331 powerplant and competing for sales with the likes of Embraer and Saab. The Jetstream 41 fills the only gap in BAe's extensive civil product line, which ranges from the BAe 125-800 business jet up to the 146-300 four-engined jet.

Dornier aims to improve its market position by providing current customers with a follow-on design. Major changes, however, make the 328 more than a simple stretch of the 228. For example, Dornier acknowledges that planned 328 features include a pressurized fuselage. On the other hand the company says it will retain the beefy, new-technology wing which gives the 228 its impressive blend of short-field and high-speed performance.

At the larger end of the regional spectrum, among the six 50-seat-and over developmental projects listed last November, fewer than 20 sales have been logged. Neither the British Aerospace ATP nor the Fokker 50 added any new orders in the past year, even though both are in flight tests. The Shorts 450, under consideration last year, eventually was "shelved,' in Shorts' words. The ATR 72 logged less than 10 new orders.

Only the 50-56 seat de Havilland Dash 8 Series 300, launched this year with the sale of DHC to Boeing, showed any sales strength, picking up 23 firm orders in under six months.

And the proposed Saab SF-440, the project that helped bring about the final separation between Saab and former-partner Fairchild Industries, awaits formal launch approval, now expected sometime in November.

Saab officials told ATW that "several derivatives are under investigation,' ranging from 40 to 46 seats, and that Saab won't launch the program until it has firm commitments from several customers. At least one SF-340 customer, Air Midwest, already holds options on the stretched version. And Comair, among others, strongly pressed the company for a commitment during the Farnborough show.

Developmental airframes

Aerospatiale/Aeritalia ATR 72:

A stretched version of the ATR 42, the ATR 72 is nearing design completion. The aircraft will seat 66 to 72 passengers, up from the 42 to 50-seat capacity of the ATR 42. First flight is planned for September 1988, and entry into service is scheduled for May 1989 with Finnair. The ATR 72 and ATR 42 are set to have cockpit commonality and expected common type ratings. Selling price for the new transport is $8.65 million.



Length 89 ft. 2 in.

Span 88 ft. 9 in.

Height 25 ft. 1 in.

Cabin length 48 ft. 8 in.

Seats 66-74


Maximum takeoff weight 44,070 lb.

Maximum zero fuel weight 42,660 lb.

Empty weight 26,895 lb.


Two Pratt & Whitney of Canada PW124 engines, 2,400 shp ea. with Hamilton Standard 13 ft. dia. propellers.


Maximum payload range 720nm

Maximum cruise speed 286 kts.

TO field length, max. load (SL, ISA) 4,165 ft.

Service ceiling 25,000 ft.


Price: $8.65 million

Beech Starship:

Beech Aircraft delayed certification of the Starship one year to take advantage of new rules to deal with an 800-lb. weight increase. The Starship is an all-composite twinengine business turboprop which Beech is considering for a commuter application out of the basic design. Certification is expected by the end of 1987 and first customer deliveries are expected during the second quarter of 1988, although no customers or orders have been announced.

The structual test part of the program is proceeding, with more than three quarters of the tests successfully completed.

NC-1, the first full-scale prototype, is involved in stability and control testing. Beech has made several improvements from data gathered during flight testing, including modification of the rudder and elevon hinge lines, and relocation of the pitch trim tab on the canard elevator. NC-1 is also completing tests to attain maximum airframe performance, using both drag reducing and thrust increasing techniques. New high-efficiency composite propellers, built by Hartzell for the Starship, are now being flight tested.

NC-2, the second full-scale aircraft, is serving as the primary systems test airplane. A third flight test aircraft, NC-3, is nearing completion at Beech facilities in Wichita, Kan. All three of the prototypes are involved in the FAA certification program which began in October.



Length 46 ft. 1 in.

Span 54 ft. 4 in.

Seats 8-11


Gross weight 14,000 lb.

Zero fuel weight 11,800 lb.

Useful load 5,286 lb.


Two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67 engines, 1,200 shp ea. with 100 in. dia., 4-bladed composite propellers.


Maximum range 2,190 nm

Maximum cruise speed 352 kts.

To field length, max. load (SL,ISA) 2,400 ft.

Service ceiling 41,000 ft.


Price: $4 million approx.

British Aerospace ATP:

The British Aerospace Advanced Turboprop transport (ATP) made its first flight on August 6 this year. The inital flight lasted two hours and 40 minutes and all tests were completed successfully. The first public appearance of the aircraft was at the Farnborough air show in September. The ATP has been designed to carry 60-72 passengers and to break even with 17-25 passengers. Noise levels are expected to be well below current federal requirements and to provide a 90 PNDb noise footprint of 1.4 square miles. Certification is expected in July 1987 with first deliveries to airlines in September 1987. Orders to date are five firm with four options at a price of $10.5 million fully equipped.

British Aerospace Jetstream 41:

The development of the Jetstream 41 would end the biggest gap in BAe's extensive civil product line, filling the space between the Jetstream 31 and the ATP with a new-generation 26-27-seat regional airliner. Some ideas under consideration for the Jetstream 31 Enhanced (see item, p. 98) would be incorporated into the 41: forward passenger boarding door, separate baggage door aft and greatly expanded luggage space.

BAe could benefit from plans to seek a common type rating for both the Jetstream 41 and the improved Jetstream 31. Engines for the 41 would be the Garrett TPE331-15, with about 1,650 eshp. A launch decision isn't expected until the second quarter of 1987.



Length 85 ft. 4 in.

Span 100 ft. 6 in.

Height 23 ft. 5 in.

Cabin length 63 ft.

Cabin width 8 ft. 2 in.

Cabin height 6 ft. 4 in.

Seats (31 in. pitch) 64


Maximum takeoff weight 49,500 lb.

Maximum zero fuel weight 44,800 lb.

Empty weight 29,970 lb.


Two Pratt & Whitney of Canada PW124 turboprops, 2,400 shp ea., with Hamilton Standard 6-bladed, 13 ft. 8 in. dia. composite propellers.


Maximum range 2,075 nm

Maximum payload range 985 nm

Cruise speed 265 kts.

TO field length, max. load (SL,ISA) 3,635 ft.

Service ceiling 25,000 ft.


Price: $10.5 million (equipped)

Orders: 5

Options: 4

British Aerospace Jetstream 31 Enhanced:

BAe initiated its Enhanced Jetstream 31 studies seeking solutions to operators' complaints about the successful, original 31. …

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