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F.27. Friendship Mk 100
Type of aircraft
The Netherlands
number of passengers
R.Da 6 Mk 514-7
Date first flight
486 km/h
1715 km

The first major civil aircraft designed and built by Fokker after WW II was the F27.

Fokker F.27 Friendship original blueprint

During 1950, Fokker determined what operators would like for a DC-3 replacement, and they developed the P.275 concept, with a shoulder-height wing, powered by a pair of turboprops.  

By 1953, this had developed into the F27 with Rolls-Royce Dart engines, seating 32 passengers in a pressurized cabin and capable of operating from small airfields.

The Dutch government was so confident that Fokker had a winner that they funded the production of two flying and two test aircraft.  The prototype flew on November 24, 1955, and the project soon began to yield orders.  Fairchild Aircraft also saw the planes potential, and secured a license-production agreement for airlines in the United States.  

The Fairchild machines had a longer nose for weather radar, extra fuel tankage, American instrumentation, and seating for up to 40.  This version received its FAA Type Approval on July 16, 1958.  

The F27/F-27 went on to become the best selling turboprop aircraft, with over 700 built.  

The intial type was followed by the F27 Mk 200/F-27A, with uprated engines, and then the Mk300/F-27B with freighter features.  

The first major change was made in the F27 Mk 500, which had a fuselage stretch of almost 5 feet, while Fairchild developed the FH-227, which instead stretched the fuselage by 6 feet.  F-27's were very popular with the smaller regional and local airlines as DC-3 and Convair/Martin replacements.  They were very reliable, and many passengers enjoyed the fine views from the large windows unimpeded by the wing.  

Many F-27's are still in service today, and manufacture of this popular plane was extended by the development of the Fokker 50, with new engines and avionics.  However, the closure of the Fokker company seems to have finally ended the story of this fine aircraft, although those examples flying today give good evidence of this fine aircraft's longevity.


The first F-27 prototype flew on November 24, 1955. The second prototype, which was 0.8 m longer and could sit 4 more passengers, flew on January 31, 1957. The aircraft entered production in November 1958. By the end of production in 1978, a total of approximately 700 F-27 were built.


F-27-100 - the first production version

F-27-200 - upgraded engines

F-27-300 "Combiplane" - cargo/passenger combination based on F-27-100

F-27-400 "Combiplane" - F-27-300 with F-27-200 upgrades

F-27-500 - stretched version, also built by Fairchild as FH-227

F-27-600 - upgraded F-27-400, first flight November 28, 1968

F-27M "Troopship" - military transport with room for 45 paratroopers or 24 stretchers

F-27 Mk.500M - military version of F-27-400 with room for 50 paratroopers

F-27 Mk.600M - VIP transport

F-27 MPS "Maritime" - maritime patrol version of F-27M

F-50 - upgraded version, Pratt & Whitney PW124 engines, first flight December 28, 1985



Fokker F.27 Friendship

Fokker F.27 Friendship Prototype nr.1

Fokker F.27 Roll-out en exposed together with a Fokker F.7

Fokker F.27 Friendship and a Fokker F.7

Fokker F27 Cockpit, C Bart Hoekstra

Fokker F.27 Friendship Prototype nr.1 in flight

Maiden flight of the Fokker F27 on 24 November 1955



Workhorse and the trail of the Dakota

Flying in the bush of the Ivory Coast is work for specialists. It is demanding on both pilots and aircraft. Only a few of the numerous destinations in the hinterland have airfields with hardened runways.

Quite often the Fokker F27 Friendships of Air Ivoire have to perform a steep approach, make a very solid landing and brake hard to avoid the large trees surrounding the undulating runway.

Friendship crews have to be alert for trucks coming out of the bush and crossing the runway at the very moment the wheels of the aircraft are about to touch down. Sometimes a couple of low passes are required to clear the landing strip of a herd of grazing cattle or other animals. And even that is not always successful, with an unplanned barbecue resulting.

This is typical of areas still without railways or decent roads, with the result that aircraft are the sole means of transportation.


F27s take-off daily from, and land on, primitive strips in the jungle, in the desert or in valleys between majestic but dangerous mountains.

Participants of the second European congres for Aviation Technology, visit Schiphol Airport where the new Fokker F.27 Friendship is showed


Copyright ©   Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid

Fokker F27, C Stichting Fokker Heritage Trust

Fokker F27, C Stichting Fokker Heritage Trust

Fokker F27, C Stichting Fokker Heritage Trust

Fokker F27 Prototype nr 3 in Lelystad, 2005, C Willem Honders

A beautiful pre-delivery shot of Fokker F-27 Mk I Friendship 100 PH-FAY. Although the aircraft still carries its Dutch trade plate registration, it is already painted in the DCA house colours of white with light blue trim, and carries the DCA logo on forward fuselage and fin

Maiden flight of the Fokker F27 on 24 November 1955

F27 landing on a strip on the Ivory Coast

1000 potential units

Outside air temperatures typically reach as high as 40°C. To call these strips 'airports' would be an exaggeration to say the least.

The foregoing type of operation was not unusual for the famous DC-3 (C-47) Dakota. And so when Fokker started designing the Friendship in the early '50s, it was a Dakota replacement that was in mind.

A role for Fokker among builders of large intercontinental transport aircraft such as Douglas and Lockheed, was out of the question - but building a Dakota replacement was reckoned to be within the Dutch company's capabilities. At that time, several thousands of Dakotas were still in service, in fact the type accounted for around 75% of all 20-to-30-seat transports.

But the Dakota was no longer a new design and many airlines were thinking about a replacement. Fokker had in fact already designed a Dakota replacement, the F24, shortly before the Second World War.

This was a high-wing twin aimed at succeeding the DC-2 and DC-3 on KLM's European network.

However, because of the War, it never progressed further than the drawing board. After the War, it became quite clear that aircraft manufacture in Holland could not be restarted without government help.


After a brief period of uncertainty it was decided by the government that the country's aviation industry would be re-established. Simultaneously, the Netherlands Institute for Aircraft Development (NIV) was created and given the task of setting-up a development program and financing the necessary research.

Representatives from the Dutch government, KLM, Fokker, the National Aviation Laboratory, and TNO, the national research laboratory, were appointed to the management committee of the new institute.

Professor Dr. Ir. H. J. van der Maas was appointed as head. On 17 January 1951 the NIV commissioned Fokker to study the feasibility of producing a medium-size airliner for continental service. Fokker started by doing some market research, initially by sending a questionnaire to eleven airlines. From this, it soon became evident that air travel could be expected to double in the space of the next 8 to 10 years.

For aircraft of 28-seat capacity, this implied a market potential for 700 to 1,000 units. A twin-engined aircraft capable of transporting 5,500 to 6,000 lb of useful load, was what the airlines wanted. Cruise speed should be 175 to 225 kt, and the range 370 miles. Take-off run should not exceed 4,000 ft, and the crew should consist of two pilots and one steward(ess).


Naturally Fokker was not the only manufacturer thinking about building a Dakota replacement. For a while it looked as if one or two of the large North American airframe builders would enter the fray. Boeing and Canadair were known to be doing research along the same lines as Fokker.

As the Dutch company hoped to sell its new aircraft in America, talks were held with both of these companies and also with Douglas and Lockheed. The latter two however preferred to concentrate on larger, longerrange aircraft. In September 1951, Fokker reached agreement with Boeing that, using the results of the U.S. company's technical research, Fokker would design and build an aircraft which Boeing would have the responsibility for selling.

This agreement was discontinued in 1952 however because of Boeing's many military commitments - among them the Model 707 aircraft. Talks with Canadair produced no success either. Fokker's design department had meanwhile studied a number of possible layouts.


Based on these studies and the results of the market research, the Dutch government decided in September 1953 to make Dfl 25 million available for development and tooling-up for series production of the F27.

Control of the available funds was in the hands of the NIV. Contrary to general belief, this funding was not a gift but a loan, and had to be paid back from the profits on F27 sales. After the loan was repaid, 'royalties' had to be paid to the government for all aircraft sold thereafter. Eventually the government received Dfl 75 million, three times the original loan. Now that funding was available, Fokker could go ahead 'full throttle', using the ambitious slogan "Fokker will span the world again".

The project was headed by Ir. H. C. van Meerten as chief designer, assisted by Ir. J. Cornelis as project engineer, Dr. J. H. Greidanus on aerodynamics, Ir. W. Bloemendal on systems, and Ir. R. J. Schliekelmann on product research and development. Professor Ir. E. van Emden and his assistant Ir. J. in't Veld were responsible for F27 production.


In the F27, various new technologies were employed that had not previously been used extensively by the aircraft industry. The most important of these was metal-to-metal bonding in place of riveting.

Test showed this technique had several advantages, the most important being a reduction in airframe weight. Aircraft construction is a continuous search for 'stronger and lighter', and bonding provided an answer to that and more.

In bonded structures, loads are transmitted not just via rivets but over the entire bonded area, resulting in less fatigue. The absence of rivet heads produces a smoother external surface, thus reducing air friction. The scaling of fuel tanks and pressure cabins also becomes easier. In addition, a bonded structure is less expensive to produce than a riveted one.

The Redux bonding process was developed from 1939 onwards by Aero Research Ltd in Duxford, England.

The name Redux is derived from a combination of REsearch and DUXford. The man behind the Redux process was Professor Dr. Norman de Bruyne, of British nationality but of Dutch ancestry. After a considerable number of tests by Ir. Rob Schliekelmann, Fokker decided to use this bonding process on the F27.


This necessitated convincing a number of sceptical airlines. KLM bluntly rejected it, but Fokker stuck to its decision. in the sales contracts with airlines, special guarantees were included for the bonded structures.

Bonding metal-to-metal is not a complicated process, but requires great care and strict process control, which was not always applied by other aircraft manufacturers using similar processes. Chemical pre-treatment is very important, as well as a thorough check afterwards. Small blemishes such as fingerprints can be disastrous. A socalled 'bond tester' was developed by Fokker to check that the bond between the two metal surfaces was perfect and without voids.

For the manufacture of bonded components, autoclaves came into use at Fokker. An autoclave is a form of large oven in which the parts to be bonded are subjected to pressure and high temperature. Considerable investment in equipment for bonding was necessary but proved its worth. The durability of the F27 has been excellent. In 1981, the British CAA doubled the allowable life of the F27 to 90,000 flights after tests at Fokker had shown that the aircraft could take that without problems. For the airframe, it was in effect starting a second life. At that time however, some Friendships had already accumulated 60,000 flights.

Reinforced plastics

Metal-to-metal bonding was not the only novelty in the 'fifties. There was also the use of glass fiber-reinforced plastics. These are easy to produce, and are light and strong. For the F27, their application was confined to secondary structures that did not carry heavy loads.

Examples were the radome, nose wheel doors, fuselage-to-wing fairings, luggage racks and ducts for the air conditioning and deicing systems. Slightly more than 5% of the weight of an F27 comes from this type of material.

Selecting an engine for the F27 can best be described as a process of elimination. Jet engines were found unsuitable because of their high fuel consumption. The higher altitudes where such engines operate more efficiently, would not be reached on the relatively short routes for which the F27 was intended.

The good old piston engine was no candidate either.


It was considered too heavy and would result in a lower cruising speed than specified. This narrowed the choice to just one type of powerplant: the turboprop. in those days the Rolls-Royce Dart looked very promising. Van Meerten and his staff had closely followed the experience with the Vickers Viscount powered by four Dart R.Da. 3s of 1,400 hp.

The British airliner had already been flying for some years with a number of airlines. The excellent record of the engine eased the selection process. The F27 was to be powered by the Rolls-Royce Dart. The fact that quite a number of Darts had already been in operation for some time, also reduced the risk of teething problems. Somewhat more power was required but this posed no problem to Rolls-Royce which was already further developing the Dart.

The R.Da. 6 Mk 507, providing 1,600 hp, was selected and eventually installed in the F27 prototype.


In all, four prototypes were built, two flight aircraft known by their production line numbers as the Fl and F3 - and two non-flying aircraft, the F2 and F4. The latter two were for static tests. On the F2, wing load tests were performed, and the F4 was used for fatigue tests. At the end of the test program, the F4 had completed a total of 125,000 simulated flight hours.

The first flying prototype was rather different from the later production aircraft. Its fuselage was some 3 ft shorter and a number of components such as the crew door and ailerons were made of wood. The R-R Darts drove four-bladed propellers of 9 ft diameter. The cabin was not pressurized and no deicing system was installed.

Fokker's chief test pilot Gerben Sonderman was to have made the maiden flight. Unfortunately however, he was killed on 20 October 1955 - just one month before the first flight of the F27 - while demonstrating the Fokker S.14 jet Trainer to the U.S.

Air Force in Hagerstown, Maryland. Hugo Burgerhout, second in command of Fokker flight testing, took over and piloted the F27 on its maiden flight.


This rook place on 25 November 1955 in drizzly weather. Nobody was informed ahead about the planned date for the flight. This was to avoid possible disappointment in the event of some minor snag arising at the last moment, leading to negative publicity. In fact, everything went smoothly.

As usual with the first flight of a prototype, extreme care was taken. The flight lasted only 34 minutes and the aircraft was never more than 6 miles from Schiphol airport. Burgerhout later stated that throughout the flight he had felt scared: 'Not for myself, because what goes up must come down, but I was afraid that I would make some mistake that could have fatal consequences for the commercial success of the aircraft". But there were virtually no problems, either during this first flight or later in the test program.

On 29 January 1957, the second prototype took the air. This aircraft, the F3, registered PH-NVF, was almost fully equipped. It had a pressurized cabin, de-icing system on the wings and tailplanes and a somewhat longer fuselage. After both prototypes had flown a total of over 800 hours, the authorities issued the certificate of airworthiness.


First operator to become interested in the F27 was KLM although some politics are suspected to have been involved in this. However, by 29 May 1957 when the Dutch airline signed its contract, Trans Australia Airlines had already ordered six F27s on 9 March the previous year. Braathens SAFE was next on 26 June 1956 with an order for three, followed the next day by Aer Lingus which ordered five.
At the end of that year the Australian Department of Civil Aviation also ordered two Friendships for testing and calibration of navaids in Australia. The sequence of ordering the F27 was not the same as for delivery. in fact, the contracts included a paragraph on delivery dates and so Aer Lingus was to be the first to have the F27 in operational service. Included in sales during 1957, were some VIP F27 Friendship de Luxe aircraft.

One of these was for the Dutch government for transport of senior officials and members of the Dutch royal family. At the end of that year the orderbook showed a total of 32 sales. The first series production aircraft was airborne on 23 March 1958, piloted by the new chief test pilot A. P. 'Jas' Moll. With appropriate ceremony, this and the next aircraft were handed over to Aer Lingus on 19 November 1958.

On that occasion, Aer Lingus' president Peter Lynch said that in 1939 he had bought his first DC-3 from Fokker who had the sales rights in Europe


. Aer Lingus operated the F27 through to 1966. At the end of 1958, Braathens received its first F27 and on 6 April 1959, the first TAA F27, named 'Abel Tasman', was delivered.

Abel Tasman had been a famous Dutch explorer and one of his descendants by the same name was a passenger on the delivery flight. Early in 1959, with sufficient orders to keep the production line busy through to late 1960, the future looked rosy for Fokker.

But then orders failed to materialize and even worse, some orders were cancelled - such as those of Aviaco and TAE (Trabajos Acreos y Enlaces). Spirits sank so low at Fokker that the management even discussed closing the production line. Fortunately this pessimism proved to be ill-founded. The Dutch government came to the rescue and ordered twelve F27s, two of the standard version of the aircraft, one in VIP configuration as a backup for the Royal Flight F27, and nine so-called Troopships with a large cargo door and fitted-out for the transport of military personnel and equipment.

This order ensured the continuity of production for at least several more months.

There were other periods when there were few if any orders, but never as critical as at this early stage. The F27 production line eventually closed 30 years later.


The F27 was built in a number of versions. The basic model was the F27 Mk. 100 with accommodation for 40 passengers. In 1959, Fokker launched the Mk. 200 which had the more powerful Dart 7 engine. To absorb the additional power, a new propeller was introduced having square-cut tips rather than rounded tips of the propeller on the Mk 100.

Seating capacity of the Mk. 200 was 44. Initial customer for this new version was Ansett in Australia with first delivery taking place on 20 September 1959. When some customers requested a large freight door, the Mk. 300 was developed having a 5 ft 10 in x 7 ft 8 in door in the left-hand forward fuselage. This version was called the 'Combiplane' or 'Freightship'.

First flight was in May 1960. The military version of the Mk. 300 was designated Mk. 300M and named 'Troopship'.

In addition to the forward cargo door, it also had two sliding doors on either side of the aft fuselage to facilitate dropping paratroopers and supplies.

Seats were arranged with their backs against the side walls and provision was included for conversion to a medical evacuation role.


The next version was the Mk. 400 which had Dart 7 engines rather than the Dart 6 of the Mk. 300. Otherwise, both versions were similar. In the mid-sixties a requirement emerged for a stretched F27, resulting in the Mk. 500. Two fuselage plugs, one in the front fuselage and one in the rear, of 35 in and 24 in respectively, increased the capacity to 50 passengers. Further developed and more powerful Dart 7s were installed.

Maiden flight was on 15 November 1967, with first orders coming from the French Postal Service (CEP) and Air Inter which ordered 12 and 10 respectively. Some later Mk. 500s were equipped with a special rough-field undercarriage. The Mk. 500 powerplant was also installed on what was otherwise a Mk. 200. This version was then baptized the Mk. 600.

It had the large cargo door but not the reinforced floor as was standard on the Mks.300 and 400. Initial customer for the Mk.600 was Iberia with the first of eight deliveries on 29 September 1967 for services in the Canary Islands and the Baleares. Only two Mk. 700s were built. This version was identical to the Mk. 600 but had Dart 6 engines. Both were converted Mk. 100s.


In addition to the Mk. 100 through Mk. 700 versions, there was also a number of sub-versions. The VIP variant, the Friendship de Luxe, has been mentioned already, and also the version used for navaid calibration which was used in Italy, Australia and New Zealand. Special versions were also built for mapping and aerial photography. The Friendship delivered to the French Postal Services had special mail sorting equipment onboard.

An important military derivative was the F27 Maritime, a patrol aircraft for submarine hunting, marine search-and-rescue, pollution control, fishing inspection and other offshore duties. A general increase in territorial waters protection operations appeared to create further sales opportunities but these did not materialize. A total of 15 Maritimes was sold which was somewhat less than Fokker had hoped. A version of the Maritime having underwing attachment points for bombs and rockets was called the Maritime Enforcer.

Not all designs of F27 variants were actually built, one of them being project P 301, a four-engined STOL version for very short runways. A model was shown at the 1971 Paris Air Show. It looked very much like the later de Havilland Canada Dash 7, for which demand proved to be limited. The P 301 was never built - neither was the F27 MS, a troopship version with rear-loading doors not unlike on the Andover variant of the Avro (now British Aerospace) 748. Vehicles could easily be driven in and out through these doors. An F27 flying boat and a jet-powered F27 were two more variants that were never built.

Two sub-versions that progressed little further than the drawing board were the Sentinel and the Kingbird.


The Sentinel was a development of the Maritime equipped with SLAR (sideways-looking airborne radar) for border patrol. The Kingbird was an AEW (airborne early warning) F27 having a retractable radome in its belly. Both the Kingbird and the Sentinel, fitted with mock-ups of the SLAR and radome, were shown at the 1984 Farnborough Air Show. Fokker did not build the F27 all by itself. At an early stage in the series production, manufacture of the fuselages was sub-contracted to Dassault-Breguet.

Later, various components were also produced by VFW in Germany and SABCA in Belgium. The fuselages were transported to Schiphol by means of a low-loader vehicle. This was quite some undertaking as the fuselage was 10 in wider than the maximum width of load allowed on French highways. A route had to be chosen therefore, via old roads and small towns, all well away from the highways. Sometimes regulations allowed this sort of transport only during the night or during non-peak hours. Fokker driver Jan Stoete made this journey for many years, so that it became almost routine for him, notwithstanding the sign on his truck which read: 'Transport Exceptionel'.

Driving through a gate and then turning sharply to the right in some town was never a problem as there were a few inches to spare. But when the first Mk. 500 fuselage was picked up from Biarritz, nobody told Jan that it was longer than his previous loads and he hit the gate.

Only once did he come across another airplane on the road: a large truck carrying a more than 20 ft wide wing section of the Concorde met Jan head-on with his F27 fuselage. Passing each other took several anxious hours.


The F27 was built not only in Holland but also in the U.S.A. by Fairchild. Manufacture of the F27 was first discussed in 1952 when Fokker was negotiating with Fairchild about licensed production of the Fokker S.11, S.12, S-13 and S.14 trainers.

Fokker considered it very important to have a production line and sales agency in America in order to have a foothold in that part of the world. On 29 August 1952, Fairchild opted for licensed production of the F27 and on 26 April 1956, five months after the maiden flight of the F27, the license agreement was signed.
It was agreed that Fairchild-produced F27s would be sold in North and South America only, except in Brazil where Fokker in those days had a factory of its own. American-produced aircraft did not use the name Friendship and were designated F27, not F27.


Some hurdles had to be taken before the F27 was allowed to fly American airways as it was the first non-American airliner to be certificated by the CAA after the Second World War.

The Vickers Viscount had been certificated earlier hut in this case the CAA had accepted British certification requirements. Also, the Viscount was not built in the United States.

The CAA wanted to see all calculations from Fokker with the added proviso that all metric dimensions should be converted to inches and feet etc.

There was also some reluctance to accept metal-to-metal bonding although support came from Boeing who was at that time considering limited-scale application of the process.


A major setback at least for some time was the imposition by the CAA in 1957 of operational restrictions on hot-and-high take-offs by turboprop aircraft. The somewhat odd result of these restrictions was that the DC-3 was permitted to takeoff from hot-and-high airfields, while the F27 was not.

This was despite the fact that the DC-3 was unable to maintain height after losing an engine whereas the F27 could continue climbing on one engine. Meanwhile Fairchild had won quite a few orders from among others, West Coast Airlines, Mackay, Bonanza, Frontier, Piedmont plus customers in Latin America. When the afore-mentioned restrictions were imposed however, some airlines that had ordered F27s decided to wait until the more powerful Dart 7-powered F27 became available.

This delay cost a lot of money and for some time gave Fairchild a nasty financial headache.


Maiden flight of the first Fairchild-built F27 was on 14 April 1958, with CAA certification being awarded on 30 July 1958. Six days ahead of this, the first delivery to West Coast Airlines was made. Competitors selling Convairs, Martins and DC-3s, informed potential customers of what they considered to be the limitations of the F27.

This foreign design, it was said, did not match the standards of American products. The high wing was said to be dangerous in the event of a belly landing and even worse with a water landing.

Tests showed however that deceleration during a water landing was much more gradual with the high-wing F27 than with a low-wing aircraft where both the fuselage and wing would hit the water simultaneously. The belly-landing case was fully disproved when, during a training flight, a Piedmont aircraft made the first-ever F27 belly landing and suffered very little damage.


Although superficially similar to the F27, the American-built aircraft was in fact quite different from Dutch-built aircraft. In fact only the propellers, engines and undercarriage were identical. One particular Fairchild change that was later adopted by Fokker was a longer radome. Like Fokker, Fairchild developed a number of versions of its aircraft.
The original standard F27 had the same characteristics as the F27 Mk 100. The F27A had the more powerful Dart 7, and the F27B was the American counter part to the Mk. 300 with a cargo door. The VIP version of the F27A was the F27F. It had provision for installation of extra fuel tanks for extended range. The F27G was the successor to the F27B and had a cargo door and reinforced cabin floor.

The F27E was to be the counterpart of the Dutch-built F27 Mk. 500 with a longer fuselage, but was not built. The F27G was an F27F variant with more powerful engines. Using the F27G as a basis, the F27H was developed for hot-and-high airfields. It had larger-diameter propellers than hitherto. The F27S (S for STOL: short take-off and landing), was designed but not built. In answer to a market requirement, Fairchild developed a stretched F27.

Originally this was called the F27 II, but when Fairchild merged with Hiller to form the Fairchild Hiller Corporation, this was changed to FH-227.


The fuselage stretch amounted to 78 in, making it longer even than the F27 Mk. 500. First flight was on 27 January 1966. The improved FH-227B had larger-diameter propellers just like the FH-227C, which was otherwise identical to the FH-227. The FH227D and E were similar to the FH-227B and C but had more powerful Darts.

In all, 206 aircraft came from the Fairchild production line in Hagerstown, of which 205 were sold.

A relatively large percentage were business aircraft. The last F27 was completed in 1968. When the production at Fairchild ceased, after-sales support also stopped and, because of the differences between Fokker and Fairchild-built aircraft, Fokker was unable to help. Later on, in the 'seventies, this caused problems when Fokker tried to sell Dutch-built F27s in America.

Although these aircraft were up to the latest standard, Fokker salesmen trying to sell to new and up-and-coming regional airlines, were told that there was no interest in an old design with poor after-sales service.

Nevertheless, by sheer perseverance Fokker made it, especially when deregulation came into effect and many Dutch-built F27s were delivered to regionals like Swift Aire, Mississipi Valley Airlines, Midstate Airlines and Allegheny Commuter.


Through the years the F27 has proved to be a jack of all trades, easy to operate and maintain and very reliable. As Jas Moll, Fokker's chief test pilot, said: "The F27 is an airplane that can do almost anything. It is very forgiving.

A mistake by the pilot or maintenance man will not usually be fatal. That is a very important characteristic of the F27".

What an F27 can do was proven in an evacuation flight in Australia.

On Christmas Day 1974, the town of Darwin in Australia was hit by hurricane 'Tracy'. A TAA Friendship flew from Alice Springs to the largely-demolished airport of Darwin, where the Royal Australian Air Force had cleared a landing strip just long enough for the F27 to land on.

As quickly as possible the aircraft flew out of Darwin to Brisbane, carrying a record 80 passengers!


To save weight, arm rests from seats were removed, there was no luggage and just enough fuel for the trip. Flying F27s, the Indonesian airline Sempati transported refugees from Cambodia to Thailand and Singapore in 1971 and '72. This operation lasted nine months. Most flights were made to and from strips in the jungle, often under enemy fire as proven by bullet holes discovered after the aircraft reached base. But this airlift was never interrupted and many hundreds of refugees, very often with their hens, goats or pigs, owe their lives to the F27. What can be done acrobatically with an F27 is regularly shown at air shows by the F27 demonstration team of the Royal Dutch Air Force.

Its display is really breathtaking to watch and has resulted in the award of many prizes since 1979 when the team first started. It is an almost constant 2g (i.e. twice the pull of gravity) operation, as shown by the specially-installed 'g'-meter.


Over the years, Fokker continuously improved the F27 to meet the constantly-changing requirements of air transport. A grand total of 786 F27s was built, including the American-built aircraft. No other Fokker airliner has ever been built in such large numbers.

The F27 is one of the most widely-used turboprop airliners in the world. Of its nearest competitor, less than half as many were produced. And production of the next runner-up, the Handley Page Dart Herald, was stopped after only a few tens had been built. In its class, the F27 is beaten in numbers-produced only by its Russian counterpart, the Antonov An-24.

Only in the early eighties did competition for the F27 become really serious. Although the Fokker aircraft is no longer in production, it will still be a while before the F27 makes its last landing.


Because of the F27's durability, there is a lively secondhand market for the aircraft, and many a Friendship has changed ownership for a higher price than was originally paid to Fokker.

Over the past few years, several F27s have gone to specialized small package haulers, such as Federal Express which started in 1988 to build up its own fleet of F27s. Sometimes, F27s are converted for very special duties.

The Canadian firm Conair modified an F27 to a waterbomber for fighting forest fires, after having already done experiments with fighting oil spillage at sea. In Australia an F27 has been equipped for studying cloud formations.

This same aircraft is also being used to detect forest fires, find fish shoals and detect minerals and oil in Australia.