Turkey seeking to build its own ‘regional jet’
Burak BekdilTurkey’s aerospace authorities have silently launched studies into an ambitious program to design, develop and manufacture what will become the country’s first indigenous regional jet.
Under the plan, scores of jet aircraft will be manufactured for both civilian and military use, officials said.
“For years the government has mentally busied itself with the idea to build an indigenous regional jet.
With the arrival of… defense procurement chief Ismail Demir [in April 2014], the program has gained remarkable pace.”
Demir is a notable aviation expert and the former general director of Turkish Airlines’ repair and maintenance subsidiary, Turkish Teknik.
Under its regional jet program, Turkey wants to use a commercially-available aircraft body as a “base and starting point.”
One official said Turkey has been in quiet, preliminary talks with Dornier to use either of its D328 or D428 models as the primary body for the Turkish regional jet.
The Dornier 328 is a turboprop-powered commuter airliner. It was initially produced by Dornier Luftfahrt GmbH, which in 1996 was acquired by Fairchild Aircraft and renamed Fairchild-Dornier. The Dornier 328 was produced at the company’s plant in Germany and sold worldwide from its Texas, United States, offices. Fairchild-Dornier also undertook the Fairchild-Dornier 428JET program to develop a 44-seat regional jet.
Aviation industry sources say the licensing rights for the Dornier series of jet aircraft are presently held by a Turkish businessman residing in the United States.
In addition to its civilian use, Turkish officials are planning to produce hundreds of regional jets for military missions in both the Navy and the Air Force. These missions could include aerial and naval surveillance, border surveillance and small cargo transport, they said.
They said in addition to Dornier aircraft, Ankara would be prepared to assess other models produced by other manufacturers.
“The idea is to move the production line of the selected model to Turkey,” one official said. “This is an open-ended program with unknown but countless aircraft to be manufactured.”