The Fairchild-Dornier 328JET is a 32 or 34 passenger regional jet airliner that was built from 1997 to 2002. It was based on the design of the Fairchild 328 turboprop airliner, a high-wing T-tail design with the engines mounted on the wings. In the mid 1990s, after Fairchild Aerospace merged with German aircraft maker Dornier, the company studied the emerging market for regional airliners and found that passengers preferred the quiet jets over turboprops. They created the 328JET, which was economical to produce because it shared many components with the 328 turboprop and required few upgrades. The prototype was completed in December 1997, and deliveries began in 1999. 83 of these jets were produced before Fairchild-Dornier went out of business in 2002. Another company purchased the unfinished aircraft and completed several more before they too became insolvent in 2005. Of the 110 produced, the largest operators were Atlantic Coast Airlines, which operated 30 of them under the Delta Connection brand from 2000 to 2004, and Skyway Airlines, which was owned and operated by Midwest Airlines as a feeder connection called Midwest Express Connection and flew 12 of these until they ceased operations in 2008.
The Fairchild-Dornier 328JET was a well built, reliable aircraft. Many pilots who flew them say they were easy to fly, handled well, and offered great performance on short fields. The cockpit was equipped with modern Honeywell electronic displays and digital engine controls, and the cabin layout was three across in a 1-2 configuration similar to the Embraer 145 regional jet. There is only one significant incident on record for this aircraft type resulting in the plane being written off and no fatalities.
The steep decline in the commercial aviation market after 9/11 along with the 328JET’s shorter range compared to other popular regional jets of the early 2000s ultimately led to the manufacturer’s liquidation, creating parts shortages and uncertainty with regard to maintenance and support. M7 Aerospace in San Antonio purchased Fairchild-Dornier’s assets and provides service and support. Today, there are more than 60 of these jets still in service worldwide with small airlines, corporate aviation, and charter services. The largest operator in 2015 is Ultimate Air Shuttle which advertises VIP-style travel from Cincinnati to Chicago, New York, and Charlotte with a fleet of 10 30-seat 328JETs.
|Fairchild-Dornier 328JET Specifications|
|Number Built||110, 1997-2002|
|Maximum Takeoff Weight||34,524lbs|
|Powerplant||2x Pratt & Whitney PW306BL, 6,050lb thrust|
|Maximum Cruising Speed||466mph|