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Type F.29
Type of aircraft
Country The Netherlands/U.S.
Date 1979. drawing, not build
Wingspan 33,91 m
Lenght 38.80 m
number of passengers 132
Enginetype R.R. RB432-05
2 x 9072 LBS
Ceiling 35000 ft
Speed 907 km/h
Fokker F.29

Fokker F.29



In search of a new market

In the early 'seventies Fokker began looking at the possibility of developing a jet airliner of rather more capacity than the Fellowship. This resulted in a number of design studies with designations such as F28-2, Super F28 and, later on, F29.

The F29 was the biggest design ever to appear on Fokker drawing boards. Early designs seating 100 passengers clearly showed their F28 ancestry, hence F28-2.

The problem with an aircraft of this size was that there was no suitable engine available. In discussions with Rolls-Royce, an improved variant of the Spey 555 turbofan as used in the F28, was proposed.

However, for one reason or another, both parties appeared reluctant to go ahead with it.

Later, Rolls-Royce proposed the RB432 and Fokker also looked at the CFM56 of General Electric and SNECMA,

Frans Swarttouw and Sanford N. Douglas with a model of the MDF-100 at the 1981 Paris Air Show

Mock-up of the F29 cockpit

but these engines were really designed for bigger aircraft. What Fokker needed was a considerably de-rated version of either of them, but the manufacturers preferred to develop more powerful uprated variants which held more promise of being sold in large numbers.

This was something Fokker could not promise because airlines in the 'seventies were starting to become increasingly lukewarm about 100-seaters.

Market research showed that interest was moving to larger aircraft, leading to a Fokker design for a 115-seater called Super F28. But this also was considered too small by the airlines.

New start

In 1979 Fokker's Preliminary Design Department started afresh, from scratch. Until then the F28 had been the basis for new designs, but now a new proposal was made: the F29. It was to have a wider fuselage with three seats on either side of the aisle. Normal capacity would be 132 passengers, rising to 150 in a high density configuration.

A stretched version would accommodate 156 and 179 respectively. The fuselage had a double-bubble cross-section in the shape of a figure '8'. Unlike on the F28, the engines were to be mounted under the wing.

Two types of turbofans were proposed to potential customers: the 20,000 lb thrust Rolls-Royce RB432 (later to be embodied in the IAE V2500) and the CFM International CFM56-3 of 21,000 lb thrust.

The wing would have a high aspect ratio and a supercritical profile. The Dutch NLR (National Air and Space Laboratory) had progressively refined this type of airfoil over the past ten years or so.


Now, the results of these investigations could be applied to the F29. For the first time at Fokker, computers were used for design work. Also, much attention was given to modernizing the cockpit by introducing an electronic flight instrument system or EFIS.
This meant that a large proportion of the traditional instruments would be replaced by TV screens that displayed the required information on demand. This form of computerized cockpit, which had already been introduced on the Airbus A310 and the Boeing 757 and 767, reduced crew workload and greatly increased flight efficiency. Prospects for the F29 seemed good. Market analysis showed a requirement for some 1,500 150-seaters through to the year 2000. These would be replacements for aging Boeing 727s and 737s and Douglas DC-9s.

The F29, with a fuel consumption almost 25% lower than these older types, would also be less noisy. In the aviation world, 150-seat aircraft were the talk of the town but somehow nobody - including Fokker - had the courage to launch it.


If Fokker had decided to produce the F29, the company would have entered a new market which it was not familiar with. The F27 and F28 had been sold, usually in small numbers, to mainly small and medium-sized airlines. In contrast to this, the F29 was an aircraft for the big carriers who were used to buying their aircraft in large numbers.

The Fokker Board of Management, with Frans Swarttouw as chairman since 1978, felt that the F29 was too big a project to be handled by Fokker alone, especially from the financial point of view. Cooperation with other aircraft manufacturers was deemed necessary.

Boeing was one of the potential partners. In 1980 a preliminary agreement was signed


with this American aircraft manufacturer for delivery of 737 fuselage sections that were to be used as components for the F29 fuselage. If the F29 project went ahead, Boeing would be a risk-sharing partner just as the Japanese industry which Fokker had contacted on developing and producing the wing.

Detailed discussions were also held with Airbus Industry. The European consortium had plans for its own 136-seat Jet 1 aircraft and 163-seater Jet 2, the latter eventually emerging as the A320. From the talks with Airbus officials it became clear that if the consortium was to be a partner, Fokker would in effect be required to hand over control of the project.


Very unexpectedly, even for insiders, Fokker on 4 May 1981 announced that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with McDonnell Douglas to jointly develop a 150-seat aircraft.

To be designated the MDF-100, the new project became the most discussed topic at the Paris Air Show a month later when the two companies took the opportunity to release further information on their plans for cooperation. While the MDF-100 was in fact a further development of the F29, McDonnell Douglas had been working for some time on the design of a slightly larger aircraft.

This was the ATMR (Advanced Technology Medium Range) of about the same size as the Boeing 757. The MDD project however was at an earlier stage of fruition than the F29 and this resulted in a relatively larger Fokker content in the MDF-100.


After less than a year with no orders being placed, the Fokker-McDonnell Douglas agreement was terminated. T

The early demise of the new project reflected the reluctance by airlines to invest in new aircraft during the prevailing oil crisis. Other airframe manufacturers persevered however, oil crisis or no, and the subsequent flow of orders for the A320, MD-80 amd later versions of the 737 seemed to indicate that if it had gone forward, the MDF-100 could have been a success.

But in 1982 it seemed impossible to find launch customers and the risk involved in continuing development of the MDF-100 were considered too great. Back at square one again, Fokker concentrated on radical updates of the F27 and F28.