Ian Goold / London
Rekkof ponders potential F100 suppliers
Amsterdam-based Rekkof Aircraft – which trades as NG Aircraft – expects to involve Tier 1 aerostructures companies in its planned re-engined development of the Fokker 100 (F100) regional jet, says chief executive Maarten van Eeghen.
The company has enlisted the help of Fokker Technologies, the former Stork Aerospace group that includes Fokker Aircraft Services, which is responsible for worldwide F100 fleet support. The latter is seen very much as the “housekeeper” of all things F100 and provides a link with the original design.
Rekkof Aircraft has a strong relationship with Fokker Technologies, which has been involved in the project for some time. Indeed, former Fokker 100 chief engineer Rudi den Hertog has joined the company, having retired in 2009 from Fokker Technologies, where he oversaw Fokker airliner engineering and support, which Stork had taken over after manufacturer Fokker Aircraft collapsed in 1996.
Production of the F100, a re-engined development of the Fokker F.28, ceased with the Dutch manufacturer’s bankruptcy. Production tooling and exclusive rights to manufacture new-build F100s were then obtained by Dutch entrepreneur Jaap Rosen Jacobson, who formed Rekkof (“Fokker” spelt backwards) in 1997.
In March this year, Rekkof Aircraft announced a Memorandum of Understanding with the Brazilian state of Goias. The local government, which wants to set up its own aerospace industry, will provide around US$720 million for the construction of a factory at Anapolis airport. Jacobson has now established Rekkof Industrial do Brasil (Rekkof Brasil) as a South American subsidiary that would own the plant, which will make F100NG sub-assemblies and parts. No other subsidiary companies are planned.
Rekkof is emphasising the extensive “green” credentials of the F100NG design, which benefits from the original aircraft’s inherent low weight, which company sources claim will be “almost 3,000kg (6,600lb) less than an Embraer E-190”. With 110-passengers flying over a 500 nautical-mile sector, Rekkof says the F100NG will offer per-seat direct operating costs (DOCs) just 4 percent above those of a 156-seat Airbus A320, while trip DOCs are put at “more than 35-percent better” than the larger aircraft.
Plans for the revival received a boosted in November when the European Commission (EC) approved a US$27 million repayable Netherlands government loan toward the US$120 million cost of Phase 1 development. This work covers modification of the Rekkof-owned Fokker 100 prototype as a proof-of-concept (POC) flying testbed that will include new engines, modern avionics, higher fuel capacity and new winglets for enhanced cruise performance.
The POC airframe is scheduled to fly in about two years’ time, following a 22-month development phase, and Rekkof is expecting the F100NG to enter service in mid-2016. The flight-test schedule incorporates three phases: initial flights with the new engine’s full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) system linked to the F100 digital flight deck, will be followed by testing of a new auxiliary power unit before further flights are made with a modified avionics fit.
Ahead of any formal agreement with Rolls-Royce, Rekkof officials decline to comment on their preferred engine for the F100NG. The company is believed to have chosen the UK manufacturer’s BR725 powerplant, which also powers the Gulfstream G650 business jet. Gulfstream is understood to have supplied two BR725s to Rekkof.
Van Eeghen says Fokker Technologies is “very active” in the Fokker 100NG design project and “quite heavily” involved in development of the proof-of-concept airframe as a leading third-party engineering contractor. He says the original aircraft’s “straight” engine nacelles have been enlarged to accommodate a higher-diameter fan. It also may have been lengthened by about 500mm (20in) to decrease aerodynamic drag.
Seen from the front, the engine pylons have been canted upwards 15-20 degrees (relative to the aircraft centre-line) as Rekkof seeks minimum drag around the airframe/pylon interface at higher angles of attack. In March, NG had still to finalise winglet considerations, as it sought to trade additional range against airfield performance.
Introduction of smaller and lighter modern avionics means Rekkof can offer increased under-floor cargo space, equivalent to saving one avionics rack, van Eeghen says. Possible repositioning of avionics equipment in any related Rekkof development of the smaller Fokker 70 may permit that model to accommodate 85 seats.
Fokker had studied various stretched projects, such as the F100 Extended Capacity, Fokker 125 and Fokker 130. Van Eeghen acknowledges that such a variant could be “a lot lighter than a [Bombardier] CSeries 300”, but no development is currently being considered. The initial planned model is seen as offering the F100’s optimal wing/cabin capacity combination.
“We are putting all the [F100NG] pieces of the puzzle together [and] many are in place; there are some major [elements still] to be agreed,” concludes the Rekkof chief executive.