Fairchild Industrial Inc. will join with Saab-Scania of Sweden to produce a series of 30-seat commercial airplanes intended for the growing commuter air market, officials of both firms said yesterday.
Fairchild's share of the initial capital investment of between $75 million and $100 million will be about 25 percent, with Saab-Scania picking up the remainder.
Details of the project, presented for the first time yesterday, are still limited. Officials said, however, that the planes could be ready for delivery as early as 1984 at a cost of between $2.5 million and $2.8 million.
Edward Uhl, Fairchild's chairman, said the company intends to be the premier manufacture of commuter aircraft, although the new plane will be used for cargo and for corporate travel, too.
The joint venture with Saab-Scania, a first for the Swedish auto, truck, bus and aircraft maker, was undertaken to develop better worldwide marketing plans for the new plane and to take advantage of the technical capabilities of both companies.
Sten Gustafsson, president of Saab-Scania, said his company became involved in the project because the two companies are of roughly equal size and are both "financially strong."
About 10 percent of Saab-Scania's revenues comes from the aerospace end of its business, which is based on fighter sales to the Swedish military.
Depending on the location of the buyer, the planes will be finished at either the Fairchild Swearingen Aircraft Corp. facility at San Antonio, or at Linkoping, Sweden, at a Saab-Scania plant.
But Fairchild's portion of the work will take place at Fairchild Republic Co. plants at Farmingdale, N.Y., and Hagerstown, Md. No additional jobs will be generated from the project, a Fairchild official said.
Nevertheless, the project emphasizes Fairchild's evolution from a defense-oriented firm to a company with a broader stake in the commerical aviation business. The company already produces a 19-seat commuter plane, which company officials believe will not be adequate to meet the needs of the growing commuter business.
Fairchild marketing officials stressed that airline fuel costs jumped by 89 percent last year and that commuter lines, in the post-deregulation era, are picking up many routes abandoned by the major carriers.
In addition, they emphasized that with large companies spreading to new sites where labor is cheaper and more plentiful, a major decentralization of those firms will add to the need for corporate airplane purchases designed to shuttle executives and others to satellite plants.
Between 1985 and 1990, Fairchild and Saab-Scania hope to produce 160 planes a year. Design of the plane is scheduled to be completed in September 1980, with flight testing beginning in early 1983.