Updated: Dec 2, 2021
The best ever regional jetliner built made its first flight on this day in 1986
The first Fokker 100 prototype (Q1), PH-MKH (from public domain)
The first flight of the successor of the Fokker F.28 was scheduled to have its first flight on the 29th of November 1986. While all staff involved put their best effort in and the aircraft was ready for it, the weather was not. Schiphol Amsterdam Airport was shrouded in fog for the whole day, with the maximum reported visibility during the day 800 - 900 meters (2600 - 2900 feet). Towards the end of the morning, visibility dropped as low as 100 - 200 meters (300 - 650 feet) not the weather for a first flight. Instead of the first flight, some high-speed runs were made on one of Schiphol's runways. PH-MKH was put back to sleep afterward, with all hope for a first flight the next day! That next day was exactly 35 years ago today, Sunday the 30th of November 1986. In the early hours, Schiphol was again shrouded in fog, but the winter sun managed to burn away the fog and it became evident that the flight could go ahead sometime after midday. The crew for this first flight was;
Henk Themmen (Chief Test Pilot)
Wim Huson (Project Pilot - co-pilot)
Wim Burgers (Fligth Engineer)
After an uneventful taxi and take-off run at 14.16 local time, the Fokker 100 was airborne for the first time. The maiden flight lasted over 2 hours and served also as a first test flight. It was successfully completed by a successful AutoLand! The test program would be flown by two prototypes, besides the PH-MKH (Q1) the second prototype PH-MKC (Q2) would make its first flight on the 25th of February 1987.
Although the quality is not as we are used to today, the first flight was recorded on video.
The Fokker 100 was developed at the same time as its turboprop sister the Fokker 50, approximately 3 years before the first flight of the Fokker 100. The Fokker 100 was designed as a successor of the Fokker F.28 Fellowship. Some of the major upgrades compared to the Fellowship are;
All new supercritical wing
5.74 meter (18.8 feet) stretched fuselage
Rockwell Collins DU-1000 EFIS - Electronic Flight Instrument System
Cat IIIB AutoLand capability
Rolls Royce Tay 620 engines (later the Tay 650 would be available)
Fokker involved the launch customers in the development of the aircraft and accommodated their wishes.
The Cat IIIB AutoLand capability tested on the maiden flight, for example, was a wish from the Swiss national carrier of the time Swissair, like a service door in the lefthand fuselage, forward of the engine.
As second customer KLM wanted a forward opening passenger door. Due to their destinations they didn't need the, initially designed, downward opening integral airstairs. Also, larger cargo doors were requested by KLM, together with a moving belt system as cargo bay floor to facilitate (un)loading. These design requests were fulfilled.
USair requested the aircraft they ordered to be delivered with a highly polished unpainted (although transparent coating was applied) fuselage. Until then Fokker had always painted their aircraft in their customer's colors. They had to develop a special procedure to fulfill the request of USair.
This flexibility of Fokker resulted in a huge amount of orders, even before the aircraft had left the drawing board. By the time the Fokker Aircraft Factory closed down due to bankruptcy, 283 Fokker 100 were built. Also, a little sister was developed, the Fokker 70. More on the history of the Fokker Aircraft Factory can be found at: https://www.fokker-history.com Some specifications for the Fokker 100;
Fligth crew 2
Passengers 97 - 122 depending on configuration
Length 35.53 m (116 ft 7 in)
Span 28.08 m (92 ft 2 in)
Height 8.50 m (27 ft 11 in)
MTOW 43,090 kg (95,000 lb) or 45,810 kg (100,990 lb) (depending on engine version)
Fuel Capacity 13,365 L (2,940 imp gal; 3,531 US gal)
Engines R-R Tay Mk 620-15 max thrust 13,850 lbf or R-R Tay Mk 650-15 max thrust 15,100 lbf
Range 2,450 km (1,323 nmi)
Ceiling 35.000 feet (11.000 meters)
Design life 90.000 landings or flighthours