A history of the Dutch manufacturer’s final product.
In late 1992, Dutch aircraft manufacturer, Fokker, began developing a new aircraft to replace the aging Fokker F28. In addition to being faster and more fuel efficient, the company listened to airlines looking for something larger than a Fokker 50 or ATR-42 but smaller than the Boeing 737 or McDonnell Douglas MD-80. Building off the success of their previous aircraft, the Fokker 100, the team sought to make the latest and greatest, the Fokker 70.
Features and production of the Fokker 70
Designers and engineers took the Fokker 100 as the base, and removed sections of the fuselage to shrink it by about 6.52 meters (15.2 feet). However, the wings, flight controls, and flight deck technology remained essentially unchanged. For engines, Rolls-Royce provided two Tay 620s, initially designed for the Fokker 100 but not powerful enough for the larger airliner.
During the design process, Fokker expected their new plane to be used for regional European travel, among other operations. As a result, it was likely to stop at London City Airport, which requires an abnormal glideslope angle of 5.5 degrees. To ensure the Fokker 70 could land at the airport, it features a tail air brake system which, when deployed, has the tail cone split outwards to increase drag.
And while hopes were high for the Fokker 70, especially with how successful the predecessor was, sales did not follow. The Fokker company was under severe financial stress and eventually went bankrupt in 1996, just four years after production of the Fokker 70 began. The 47th (48th if you count a prototype) and last Fokker 70 rolled out of production in April 1997, and though efforts have been made to revive the Fokker 100 and 70 product lines, progress has yet to be fruitful.
Historical and current operators
Launch customers included now-defunct Indonesian carriers Sempati Air and Pelita Air, though primary operators would consist of the key European carriers KLM, with their Cityhopper, and Austrian Airlines. However, both KLM and Austrian Airlines retired their fleet of Fokker 70 aircraft, and according to ch-aviation, 20 examples are still active while five are in maintenance.
The largest operator is the Australian-based Alliance Airlines, with ten active Fokker 70 aircraft and three of the five in maintenance. Two of those operate on an ACMI basis for Virgin Australia, though the carrier has an additional one in storage. Next is Air Niugini, the flag carrier for Papua New Guinea. They own six total, actively operating four of the aircraft and keeping another two in storage.
Other owners include: Fly All Ways Airlines (Suriname-based, one active and one in maintenance), JetAir Caribbean (Curaçao-based, one active and one in maintenance), Jetways Airlines (Kenya-based, one active – but is wet-leased by Premier Airlines), Wayra Perú (Peru-based, two in storage), i-Fly Air (Kenya-based, one in storage), and Salaam Air Express (Somalia-based, one in storage). Another three are operated between the Kenyan and Myanmar Air Forces, six are in storage with no registered owner, and ten are listed as scrapped.
Have you ever spotted a Fokker 70 or flown on one in its heyday? Let us know your experience in the comments section below!
Sources: ch-aviation, Airways, Airliners