Posted on: 16 June 2015
A new Turkey-based, wholly-owned subsidiary of Sierra Nevada Corporation, TRJet, has been formed to produce the TRJ328 and T328, updated versions of the Dornier 328JET and 328 turboprop respectively, as well as to design and bring to market larger regional aircraft, the TRJ628 and T628, again a jet and turboprop pairing.
Explaining the investment, Dave Jackson, managing director of 328, which provides support for the installed global fleet of 328/328JETs, remarked, “While the 30-50 seat segment is often thought of as a dying market, we have different views. There are nearly 5,000 aircraft operating in this sector and they’ll need to be replaced.”
The new company will produce some test aircraft at Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany as the experience of the team there will help to get the upgraded aircraft certified, after which all tooling will be transferred to TRJet’s new facility in Ankara.
“For the supply chain, we’ve discussed this with the Turkish government [which is supporting the whole venture with business incentives], as managing the supply chain and getting it right is extremely important,” Jackson emphasised. “We do have an established vendor base which can provide leverage going forward. We hope they’ll be involved in the TRJ628 too, including Pratt & Whitney Canada which provides the engines for the TRJ328.”
Regarding funding, Jackson confirmed that TRJet is a fully commercial, standalone entity. “We’re fortunate though, that the Turkish government is planning a launch order for 50 aircraft. They haven’t said how they will use these but there are various options, including government shuttles.”
Jackson expects the first aircraft to be delivered within 18-36 months. The first delivery will from Turkey will be a jet with delivery of the first turboprop not far behind. “We hope the production rate will be 20-30 a year by year 4 or 5. We’re being realistics and are not going to put crazy numbers out there. Existing customers and potential new ones are already contacting us.”
Regarding the TRJ628 and T628, these will have a capacity between 50 and 70 seats and a high-wing. Jackson said that the company will look at geared turbofan technology for the engine. Roll-out is planned for 2023, with the jet most likely being the first into service. “The TRJ328 will be kind of a ‘training’ vehicle for the company in bringing an aircraft to market,” he added.
On why Turkey was chosen and not Germany, Jackson commented that “Oberpfaffenhofen is not the perfect part of the world to start a production facility”. He confirmed that many governments have approached 328/Sierra Nevada Corp, but that “we’ve spoken with Turkey for about five years”.
Not everything will leave Oberpfaffenhofen for Ankara. Customer support for the existing fleet and spares support will stay there as well as some parts manufacturing.
Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net
Le Bourget, Paris, France