The Fokker 100 (or F28-0100) was, Dutch manufacturer, Fokker's next generation of its popular and steady, if not spectacular, selling F28 series. The F28 was a fine aircraft well ahead of its time pre-dating true regional jets by nearly thirty years. The type was operated worldwide (especially in Australia, Canada and Europe) but usually in only small numbers. Its maximum seating capacity in the extended 4000 series was 85 and by the 1980s the basic design was in need of renewal. Fokker accomplished this by creating a new wing, replacing the Rolls-Royce Spey engines with new Tays and stretching the fuselage to seat up to 107 passengers.
Interestingly by the 1980s the rapid expansion of commuter airlines and regional hub and spoke route networks opened up an opportunity for the F28. Piedmont built up a substantial fleet of the type and acquired more when it took over Utica based Empire Airways. Other airlines in the US, like Horizon Air, also began flying Fellowships however at the time the F28 still sat uneasily as too small for most mainline operators and too large for most commuters. Fokker was able to benefit from the larger size of the F100 and lack of competition in the 100 seat range to make the F100 a very appealing offering.
Swissair accepted the first F100 in February 1988 (after a first flight in November 1986) but Fokker was able to make much greater sales to a few customers in the New World and broke into the US market in a big way. This was just what Fokker needed as during the 1980s it had been propped up by the Dutch government to the tune of more than $750 million whilst a weak dollar disadvantaged its sales abroad and it suffered production difficulties. In 1985 USAir ordered 40 F100s to operate on short-medium haul (200-1,200 mile) routes from its Pittsburgh and Philadelphia hubs. The type also was very suitable for operations from the Piedmont hubs that USAir was about to acquire.
The reborn, but still barely profitable, Braniff also got in on the act and in 1988 ordered 18 F100s through a leasing deal with Guinness Peat Aviation. It planned to operate them from its new Kansas City hub and replace the BAC One-Elevens it had acquired from its Florida Express takeover. Needless to say that Braniff's increasingly poor financial position meant that no F100s ever saw operation in their colours.
Fokker was able to get over that disappointment however with a much bigger sale. This time to American Airlines who bought 75 aircraft as part of a huge multi-manufacturer order which also included 25 757s and 10 767-300ERs. Deliveries ran from July 1991 to July 1994 and the type was used to replace elderly 727-100s on thinner routes and build up its San Jose and Raleigh Durham hubs. American also took 75 options on the F100 but these were never turned into full orders. At the time American clearly stated that the F100 easily defeated the competing BAE 146, MD87 and 737-500 - the latter two being downscaled versions of larger aircraft meaning they were weight heavy - the Fokker was 18% lighter than the 737-500.
Sadly despite the decent sales figures for the F100 Fokker went out of business in 1996. The reasons behind that are complex and out of scope for this post however the F100 (and the F70) have gone on to have an excellent operational history despite Fokker's exit from the plane making scene. Having said that their careers with both USAir and American were relatively limited.
USAir became US Airways in 1997 and most of the Fokkers were repainted into the new colours however following 9/11 the airline needed to standardise its fleet and the Fokkers were orphans. N866US became D-AGPI with Germania in September 2003 and was transferred to the DBA fleet in January 2006. Merged into the Air Berlin fleet in 2006 she was leased out and became PJ-DAA with Dutch Antilles Express in Feb 2007 with whom she still operates.
American also began to look at ways to simplify its fleet at that time and pass lower capacity traffic over to regional partners partly because scope clause agreements made them difficult to fly with mainline pilots. The F100s were also becoming difficult to maintain due to parts shortages and needed an expensive landing gear modification. All the F100s were retired by 2005 but thei rretirement left a big gap between 70 seater RJ and the much larger 140 seater MD-80s that American found hard to fill. N1400H was the first AA F100 delivered and has since seen service with JetsGo (C-GKZC till 03/05) and Carpatair (YR-FKA) who at times have leased her to Alpi Eagles, Adria Airways and Petro Air.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: