Fokker Next Gen

Fokker Next Gen

After a proud history of 84 years Fokker (in full: Royal Dutch Aircraft Factory Fokker) was declared bankrupt in 1996. Parts of the original company could continue their activities after being taken over by Stork N.V, which became known as Stork Aerospace Group and since 2011 as Fokker Technologies. These companies are active in manufacturing parts and in maintenance, repair and remarketing of existing Fokker aircraft. Main business units were Fokker Techniek and Fokker Services. In 2021 these business units were acquired by Panta Holdings

Already in 1996 a new company was established, named Rekkof (Fokker spelled backwards) that attempted to restart F70 and F100 production with the support by suppliers and airlines. This initiative did not come to fruition. The driving force behind Rekkof was the Dutch investor Jaap Rosen Jacobson and his company Panta Holdings. Rekkof adopted a new name: Netherlands Aircraft Company and started developing a new aircraft, based on the F100 design. The new design was called F130NG, indicating to transport 130 passengers using next generation technologies. Also this attempt remained without success and the project came to a standstill in 2010.

In 2023 another new company was established, Fokker Next Gen, which aims to combine innovation with sustainability in aviation. The company aims to design and build from scratch a completely new “green” aircraft, enabling future generations to fly eco-friendly. The design goal is a regional airliner for 120-150 passengers, using liquid hydrogen as a combustion source and with a range of 2,500 km. In contrast to combustion of hydrocarbons such as kerosine, hydrogen combustion only results in water vapor and thus is free of any CO2 emission. Currently, hydrogen combustion engines are commercially available for cars, buses and trucks. In aviation various experimental hydrogen-powered aircraft have been developed and although the concept has been proven, these engines are not yet fit for commercial aircraft. The intention is that the new Fokker aircraft cannot only fly on hydrogen, but is also suitable for kerosene and SAF (sustainable aviation fuel).

Although Fokker Next Gen focuses heavily on innovation, the knowledge and experience of traditional aircraft manufacturing still plays an important role. The company has access to the expertise used for designing and building the F100 and F70 amongst others by a number of former Fokker employees in their staff. One should realize that these Fokker airliners were designed for a lifespan of 10-15 years and nowadays, almost 30 years after the last-built Fokker jet left the factory in Amsterdam, some 100 of the 350 units produced are still in service. This quality and robustness is inherent to Fokker aircraft and will remain a key feature of the Next Gen design. A preliminary detailed design will be made public by the end of 2024.

Fokker Next Gen is cooperating with Rolls Royce for the hydrogen combustion engine in the Cavendish project that is funded by the European Union Clean Aviation program. Once a prototype hydrogen jet engine is available, presumably in 2028, it will be test-flown in a retrofitted Fokker 100 *. The first F100 prototype PH-MKH (11242) might be a candidate; this airframe is in storage at Woensdrecht since it completed the SOSTAR program in 2007. If the hydrogen engine performs adequately, the final aircraft design can be completed by 2030 and production of parts can start. The assembly of the NG prototype should commence in 2032 and the target date for its first flight is mid 2033. This would mean that the new aircraft can enter service with customers in 2035.

As a small player in the aviation arena, Fokker Next Gen is actively searching for partners to cooperate with. In September 2023 a cooperation was started with Systèmes Dassault for using Dassault’s 3DExperience-platform, an advanced integrated software package for concept development and lifecycle management. Further Fokker Next Gen is developing plans for one or two manufacturing sites for their new aircraft that should be able to manufacture 150 aircraft per year. Besides Groningen (Eelde) airport in the Netherlands investigations are ongoing for building a factory in the Liepaja Special Economic Zone in Latvia in cooperation with the Latvian government and the Riga Technical University. The recently signed Memorandum of Understanding with Air Baltic for cooperation in design and development will assure early feedback from an airline partner as a potential end-user. In addition Toki Aviation Capital in Japan was contracted for the development and deployment of zero carbon emission aircraft in Japan. We can anticipate more of these cooperations as key milestones in the design process come into view.  

 


Fokker Next Gen pictures

Artist impressions of the Fokker Next Gen in the air and the planned location of the hydrogen tanks in the aft fuselage (Fokker Next Gen website, retrieved June 2024)


* Note added after publication In June 2024 Fokker Next Gen has decided to drop the phase of hydrogen engine testing on a F100. Instead, it focuses on developing the zero-emission airliner from a clean sheet.

 

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