In a move that was doing the rounds immediately after international sanctions against Iran were lifted recently, the country on Sunday 24 January confirmed it is buying 114 Airbus airliners to replace its current, dangerously tired fleet of commercial aircraft. The Airbus jets will be used buy Iran Air.
The deal will be signed on Wednesday during a visit to Paris by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian government confirmed.
Iran is looking for A320s and A340s, which is remarkably and a challenge by itself as the A340 is out of production. Teheran said the first aircraft are to be delivered in months, which could indicate the A340s are actually used aircraft. Iran states it is also looking at the A380 for long routes.
Fleet & spare parts
Right now, Iran Air used older A300, A310 and A320 aircraft, along with several Boeing 747-200s and a dozen or so Fokker 100s. Commercial aviation in Iran over the last two decades was known to be a dangerous undertaking due to lack of spare parts. Several deadly crashes have plagued the country. The order for new aircraft is therefore no surprise.
Iran is expected to need several hundred more airplanes to get its commercial fleet into shape.
Austrian Airlines has sold its entire fleet of 15 Fokker 100 and six Fokker 70 aircraft to Alliance Aviation Services Limited in Australia, making that company the largest operator of both types. In Austria, Embraer 195 jets will take the place of the Fokkers starting next January, rejuvenating the airline’s mediumhaul fleet.
The transaction is valued at 15 million USD and includes an issue of new shares in Alliance and a cash component. Austrian Airlines will gradually terminate its use of the Fokker jets and deliver them to Alliance Aviation over the next two years. Deployment of the Embraer aircraft will take place simultaneously.
The Embraer jets are not new and have an average age of four years, compared to the average age of about 21 years of the Fokker fleet. “The replacement of the Fokker fleet with Embraer aircraft will serve to significantly rejuvenate our fleet and offer Austrian Airlines better unit costs”, explains Austrian Airlines CEO Kay Kratky.
Alliance Aviation already operates 15 Fokker 100 and eight Fokker 70 aircraft and says it will be the largest global operator of these types of aircraft. The company operates bases in Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland.
Air Niugini, the national airline of Papua New Guinea, is the new user of seven ex-KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Fokker 70s. The two-engine short-haul jetliners will be phased out starting in December 2015, when the first new two KLM Embraer 190s arrive at Amsterdam-Schiphol IAP.
Air Niugini has been adopting ex-KLM machines before. In September 2013 a Fokker 100 was transferred, followed by a Fokker 70 in October 2014.
KLM took its first Fokker 70 into service in 1994. Between 1994 and 1997, a total of 47 Fokker 70s were built, as well as one prototype. The F70 was operated by 15 different carriers worldwide. KLM Cityhopper has the biggest F70 fleet, operating 18 of these aircraft through December 2015. Together, the Fokker 70 and its bigger brother, the F100, have racked up more than 10 million flight hours for KLM. The Fokker 100 was phased out of the KLM fleet in 2012. KLM also operated the turboprop Fokker 50, until 28 March 2010.
The average age of the Fokker 70 is almost 20 years, with each aircraft having operated an average of 37,000 flight hours and as many take-offs and landings.
The remnants of what was once the pride of the Dutch aviation industry is changing hands. Fokker Technologies has been sold to GKN for 706 million euro, increasing GKN’s position of one of the largest produces of aircraft parts worldwide once the authorities that guard monopolies in both Europe and the United States agree with GKN’s purchase.
Fokker Technologies currently produces lightweight aircraft parts, cables and landing gear, plus it does aircraft maintenance and logistics. It is a surviving heritage of the once larger Fokker (Aerospace) that produced hundreds of military and commercial aircraft between 1912 and 1996 – when the company was declared bankrupt. Started by Anthony Fokker in 1912 in Germany, the aircraft manufacturer moved in 1919 to the Netherlands.
A serious attempt since 2010 by the company called Rekkof (“Fokker” spelled backwards) to redevelop and restart production of larger version of the Fokker 70 (F90NG) and a larger version of the Fokker 100 (F120NG) with financial support from the Dutch government has so far not led to the actual start-up of an assembly line.
KLM Cityhopper announced on 30 March 2015 the purchase of 17 new Embraer E-Jets to replace its Fokker 70 aircraft. The deal is for 15 E175s and two E190s. The latter will arrive in December 2015, while the E175s are expected between March 2016 and June 2018.
With the purchase the end is in sight for a historical Dutch product flown by a major Dutch operator. The Fokker 70’s first flight was on 4 April 1993 at its location of Woensdracht in the Netherlands. The aircraft is a derivative of the Fokker 28 and that’s why the type is officially registered as F28-0070. KLM received the Fokker 70s from the successors of the original manufacturer, as the company started by Anthony Fokker in 1919 in the Netherlands went bankrupt mainly due to bad management in 1996. The first KLM Cityhopper Fokker 70 was delivered in on 22 January 1997, the last on 25 March 2000.
Between 1992 and 1997 only 47 Fokker 70s were produced. KLM Cityhopper has been the biggest operator of the type. A Fokker 70 serves as the government flight of the Netherlands, while the Kenyan Air Force flies one for its president. The other operators are Tyrolean Airways / Austrian Airlines (6), Insel Air (3) and Alliance Airlines (8) in Australia. Fokker Services – one of the successors of Fokker – owns one Fokker 70. The rest of the Fokker 70s are mostly flying in VIP configuration as a luxury company business jet.
The Fokker 70 is powered by two Rolls-Royce Tay 620 turbofans. It has a cruising speed of 456 knots (525 mph or 845 kmh), a range of 2,119 miles (3,410 km) and a service ceiling of 36,000 feet. The only known incident was with an Austrian Airlines jet on 5 January 2004, when it crash-landed on Munich IAP in Germany after ice built up in the engines upon descent. Luckily the crash resulted in no serious injuries to any of the 28 passengers and four crew, with almost all escaped shaken but unharmed.
The introduction of the Embraer E175 and the retirement of the Fokker 70 will be done gradually. KLM Cityhopper together with partner Air France regional daughter Hop! also signed an option for another 17 Embraer E-Jets.
With the arrival of the new aircraft KLM Cityhopper is able to transport 100 passengers on the E190s and 88 on the E175, against 80 on the Fokker 70. The E175 has a slightly shorter range than the Fokker 70: 1,800 miles (3,334 km) with a typical cruising speed of 447 knots (515 mph or 828 kmh). It has a service ceiling of 41,000 feet. Embraer aircraft are not a new sight for KLM Cityhopper. The Dutch daughter of the oldest still existing airline (KLM) flies 28 Embraer E190s.
KLM Cityhopper’s current 47 aircraft make about 300 flights a day, all within Europe, to 54 destinations. Business travellers are the core of the 18,000 passengers that fly daily with the company.