As the global fleet of Fokker 100s continues to retire, Angus Mackay and Stuart Rubin from ICF International find that there is still a niche market for the type.
The Fokker 100 is a medium-sized, twin-turbofan jet airliner from Fokker, the largest such aircraft built by the Dutch aircraft manufacturer before it was dissolved in 1996.
Fokker F100 technical description
The Fokker 100’s structural design and mechanical systems were largely based upon the Fokker F28 Fellowship, a twin-turbofan aircraft developed by Fokker for short- and medium-haul routes in collaboration with other European aircraft manufacturers.
Boasting a design life of 90,000 landings, the Fokker 100 has shown high structural durability over the years, with few significant structural and corrosion issues arising during maintenance in the mature phase of its life.
The Fokker 100, developed from 1983 and first flown in 1986, incorporated a 19-foot fuselage extension over its predecessor and had a typical maximum seating capacity of 109 passengers. The aircraft was offered with two engine variants of the Rolls-Royce Tay engine, entering service with Swissair in 1988.
The Tay 620, producing 13,850 pounds of static thrust (lbst) on take-off powers earlier versions of the Fokker 100, with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 98,000lbs, and a range of 1,323 nm with 107 passengers. Of the 278 Fokker 100 aircraft delivered, 37 were configured with this engine variant on delivery.
Upgraded 15,100lbst Tay 650 engines power the remainder of the fleet, permitting an MTOW of 101,000lbs from MSN 11444 and, with a fuel capacity increase of 150 USG, an increased range of 1,710 nm.
A shortened version of the Fokker 100, the Fokker 70, accommodating up to 80 passengers, with a range of 1,875 nm and powered by two Rolls-Royce Tay 620 engines, was also produced until 1996. A total of 47 Fokker 70 aircraft were manufactured.
Optional Fokker 100 aircraft equipment choices included a forward-opening passenger door or a downward-opening door with integrated stairs, landing gear manufactured by Menasco Motors or Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, and an avionics bay in the lower lobe or, in the case of the 40 US Airways aircraft, in the main cabin, providing 100ft3 of additional cargo space.
The Fokker 100 is equipped with sophisticated electronic flight instrument system cockpit displays, and incorporates a dual flight management system and integrated automatic flight control system, enabling CAT IIIA autoland and offering full flight envelope protection.
The type can also be configured with CAT IIIB and RNP 0.3 navigation capability. The Fokker 100 complies with FAA Stage 3 noise regulations by a wide margin and will comply with ICAO Chapter 4 regulations. The aircraft also complies with the CAEP 4 emission level requirements.
Production of the type ended with the bankruptcy of the Fokker Aircraft Company in 1996.
Key initial customers for the Fokker 100 were American Airlines, which ordered 75 aircraft, TAM Airlines, with 50 orders, and US Airways which acquired 40 aircraft.
However, the demise of the manufacturer, and the decision by American and US Airways to dispose of their fleets, led to a precipitate decline in values and lease rates, with many predicting the demise of the type as a marketable asset.
Nevertheless, the introduction of Fokker Services and Rolls-Royce’s future 100 support (and subsequently, the FLYFokker programme in support of start-up operators) has allayed market fears regarding future technical support, and a robust secondary market for the type has developed over time.
Fokker Services, which has bases in the Netherlands and Singapore, holds the aircraft type certificate and provides a wide range of services to the operator base. Australian operators also feature prominently, with 48 aircraft in active service.
Network Aviation Australia (QantasLink) has 17 in service, Alliance Airlines has 16, Virgin Australia Regional has 13, while Skippers Aviation operates two aircraft. The predominant use of these aircraft is in fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) charter operations in the mining sector.
Alliance Airlines, via its wholly-owned subsidiary Alliance Aviation Services Slovakia, has also acquired the entire Austrian Airlines fleet of 21 Fokker 100 and Fokker 70 aircraft which it will operate, lease, sell, or part out in the future.
The type is also popular with Iranian operators – 25 are in service, with a further 19 in storage, although due to the imposition of international sanctions they are not supported by Fokker Services.
The Fokker 100 prospered early in its programme life, with few competitors, but is thought by many observers to have faced increasing competition over time from larger aircraft in the form of the Airbus A318, Boeing 717 and 737-600, while aircraft like the Bombardier CRJ900/1000 and Embraer 190/195 are considered to have eroded its position from below.
In reality, start-up operators in more remote regions with challenged runways are more likely to consider the increasingly-available Fokker 70, the BAe146/RJ family of aircraft and, potentially, the Boeing 737-500.
Presently, 129 Fokker 100 aircraft remain in active service with 42 operators, although 48 aircraft, or 27 per cent of the total fleet, are in storage. Asia-Pacific is the largest regional market, with 71 aircraft in service, followed by 25 in the Middle East, 24 in Europe, five in Latin America and four in Africa.
Airfax currently reports five Fokker 100 aircraft for sale or lease, although actual availability is thought to be somewhat higher given the high level of aircraft in storage. The aircraft is seen as a robust and cheap alternative to more modern and efficient regional jets, with the Fokker 100 market-driven primarily by individual aircraft engine status and configuration.
High gross weight aircraft, with good maintenance life remaining, additional fuel capacity and range, and equipped with the Rolls-Royce Tay 650 engine, are greatly preferred to earlier-build variants.
As the average cost of shop visit overhaul for the Tay 650 exceeds $2.2 million, while an engine life-limited part set costs $1.5 million, aircraft values are therefore more dependent on engine maintenance condition rather than vintage, and typically trade in a band between $1.5-2.5 million.
Lease rates typically vary from $40-60,000 per month, although operating lease structures are increasingly rare given low acquisition costs. Ambitions to recommence production of a Fokker 100 derivative have been expressed over the years, primarily by Rekkof/NG aircraft, now the Netherlands Aircraft Company (NAC).
In 2012, Rekkof initially proposed a stretched Fokker 120NG, to be powered by a variant of the Pratt & Whitney GTF engine. Subsequently, a further stretch has been incorporated in the design, with NAC proposing to introduce the Fokker 130NG, seating 130-138 passengers, in 2020.
However, given an absence of orders, a plethora of competing aircraft, and indeterminate funding, ICF sees little likelihood of programme success.
Nevertheless, given the reasonably broad and developing start-up, VIP and FIFO operator base, and continuing FLYFokker support from Fokker Services, ICF considers the Fokker 100 market to still have a reasonably healthy, albeit niche, future.
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published in January 2018.