Fokker (was: Orders for Airliners in 1997)

Date:         17 May 98 00:43:20 
From:         Kees de LezenneCoulander <lezenne@compuserve.com>
References:   1 2 3 4 5
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On 11 Feb 1998 jf mezei <"[non-spam]jfmezei"@videotron.ca> wrote:

>Come to think of it, what is left of Fokker now ? Does the name still
>exist ? Does it have some maintenance facilities or have they sold that
>to a third party ?
>
>Are Fokker's assembly plants empty, sold to another company for other
>purposes (building toys/cars/furniture etc) or have they remained in the
>aerospace field, and if so, who now owns them ?

     In the last few days before the bankrupty (Friday 15 March 1996), some
quick action behind the scenes divided the company into profitable and
unprofitable parts.
     The viable parts of Fokker were brought together in a new company with
the name Fokker Services. This comprised product support, maintenance and
aerostructures. Fokker Services remained outside the bankruptcy, and hired
some of the essential personnel from Fokker Aircraft. After a short period,
Fokker Services was bought by Stork, which is a Dutch company with
interests in various engineering fields. Some time later, Stork also bought
some assets such as prototype aircraft and test equipment.
     Fokker Services continued support for the existing fleet of Fokker
aircraft without interruption. The aerostructures work (tailplanes for the
Gulfstream V, participation in the NH-90 helicopter) was also continued. It
has signed an agreement with Airbus Industrie for possible participation in
the A-3XX. In cooperation with the Perry Group in the U.S.A., Fokker
Services is also actively working on a re-engining program for the F-28,
with Rolls Royce Tay engines replacing the Speys.
     Some subsidiary companies, such as Fokker Space, were also kept
outside the bankruptcy, and are gradually being sold.

     When the main Fokker Aircraft company entered bankruptcy, the court
appointed a trustee (called "curator" under Dutch law) with the task of
either reorganizing the business or winding it up. This part of the company
comprised the engineering and marketing departments and the final assembly
operation. With the exception of a skeleton crew for essential maintenance,
all personnel were laid off.
     Within a few weeks, the curator managed to set up a scheme to complete
assembly of a limited number of aircraft which were already on the
production line or for which most of the parts where already in the
pipeline. With the cooperation of suppliers and customers, two batches of
aircraft were completed, comprising a total of 10 Fokker 50s, 4 Fokker 60s,
14 Fokker 70s and 2 Fokker 100s. A small number of personnel were rehired
for this purpose. The last Fokker aircraft produced under this scheme (a
F-50 for Ethiopean Airlines) was handed over in May 1997.
     While the curator managed to keep limited production going, various
attempts were made to sell the company. At one time, it seemed almost
certain that the Korean company Samsung would buy Fokker. Malaysia also
came close, but in the end none of these attempts came to fruition, and the
assembly line was effectively closed down at the end of May 1997.
     The first public auction in October 1997 comprised mostly furniture,
common tools and publicity material. None of the essential tools have as
yet been sold, and the buildings and production line are still essentially
intact. This situation will of course not last forever, and more auctions
are in the pipeline.

     After the various rescue attempts came to nothing, a mr. Rosen
Jacobsen is still making a valiant effort to restart the manufacturing
operation. Having made a fortune from other sources, he is spending a
substantial sum of his own money, while avoiding publicity. He has set up a
new company (Rekkof Restart), which bought some of the essential tools, and
has an option on the assembly line. Although Rekkof does not say much
publicly, it is rumoured that they have agreements in principle with most
suppliers (engines, fuselages, wings). Some parts would be built by the
original suppliers, some would be moved to new suppliers (wings). Various
press reports have also mentioned launching orders (TAM, Formosa Airlines).
The people involved seem to be quite optimistic about the possibility of
pulling it off. Time will tell.

     On the day of the bankrupty, more than 5000 people were laid off. A
small number was rehired by Fokker Services, and the curator kept on some
people on a temporary basis. Some overseas companies (Boeing, Bell Canada)
sent interview teams over almost immediately; a limited number of people
(less than a hundred) moved to Seattle. Other aviation companies in Europe
have taken on some former Fokker personnel. The remaining persons are
gradually being absorbed by local industry.
     Some of the more entrepreneurial people have started new companies in
the engineering and consultancy fields. The company I work for (A.D.S.E.)
is one of them.
     And before anyone asks: Yes, I did work there for about 25 years,
right up to the moment the plug was pulled.
                             Kees de Lezenne Coulander
--
  C.M. de Lezenne Coulander
  Amsterdam-Zuidoost
  The Netherlands                    E-mail: Lezenne@CompuServe.com

  Aircraft Development and Systems Engineering B.V.
  Schiphol-Rijk
  The Netherlands