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ILA 2000: Alliance Enters RJ Market

By Ryszard Jaxa-Malachowski,
AWN Central European correspondent

BERLIN - Alliance Aircraft Corporation of New Hampshire plans to enter the 70-90 seat regional jet market with two new models: the Star Liner SL 200 and SL 300.

Headed by former Fairchild Dornier executive Earl Robinson, Alliance expects the first Star Liner to be certified by 2003. The Alliance aircraft family will range in capacity from 55-110 seats entering direct competition with Embraer, Fairchild Dornier, and Bombardier.

Besides a five-abreast seating arrangement, other features of the new RJs include a full fly-by-wire control system and management utility systems with soft key avionics displays.

The project is to be much less costly than similarly designed competing models. Total project costs down to certification are estimated at $660 million. Due to reduced initial costs, the aircraft are to be much cheaper than the RJs currently available with the benefit of an all-new design.

What makes this possible is the heavy distribution of components manufacturing and the use of CAD/CAM systems for designing what Alliance says will cut delays and reduce total expenses. The use of modern Rolls-Royce BR700 engines will also allow a reduction of direct operating costs by one-third that of currently operated types like the Boeing 717 and Airbus A319.

Other advantages stressed by AAC are excellent noise and emission margins, low crew workload due to a digital cockpit concept with high redundancy and system integration and fast turn around of 17 minutes.

The company is very optimistic for the future. Due to the low levels of private investors, the everyday unit price of the aircraft is around $14 million. AAC says it will break even with around 100 aircraft sold. Such conditions - if real - may knock down some of the competition and force it to find a totally new approach to the problem.

Other visible signs of optimism are that company is expecting monthly output to reach 17 aircraft. The maiden flight is planned for 2002 and certification by 2003 with deliveries at around 2003/4.

Sukhoi partnership planned

At the press conference AAC announced that it is in negotiations with Suhkoi concerning joint design and production of aircraft. This could have a dramatic influence on unit costs and marketing - giving easy access to markets like Russia and China.

Both companies met at the ILA trying to define future collaboration but a joint project is very much possible.

The smaller project has been presented - - the SL 100 with capacity of 35 seats and fewer. A very similar concept to the larger SL 200/300, the smaller plane is to consume some $350 million from preliminary stage to its certification. Its fly-away price will be about $7 million. The smaller aircraft is to have a three-abreast cross section only.

The project is to hit a few milestones this month. Applications have already begun for wing and fuselage risk sharing partners. A full team is expected to be set up by the end of July.

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