The Fokker F27 Friendship forms part of a historic period for aviation during the post-war years. Production began in 1955, but it wasn’t only the Dutch powerhouse of Fokker that would work on the program. Following a licensing arrangement, North America’s Fairchild would also build aircraft as part of the program across the pond.
The F27 program originally went by the name of P275 and it was billed to be a replacement for popular piston-engine aircraft on the scene such as the Douglas DC-3. It was to be backed by Rolls-Royce Dart turboprops and feature a shoulder wing, along with 32 seats. However, in 1952, the plane progressed into a 40-seater, with a range of 483 km (270 NM).
“The first prototype was fitted with Dart 507 engines, but a second one had Dart 511s and a 0.9 m (3 ft) longer fuselage. The latter aircraft was adopted for production aircraft. Several different variants were produced from the basic aircraft (the F27-100),” the South Australian Aviation Museum shares.
“The Mk200 had more powerful Mk528 Darts and increased weight; the Mk300 a large freight door in the forward fuselage, the Mk400 was the Mk300 but with Dart 528s; the Mk500 fuselage was lengthened 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in); and lastly, the Mk600 was a Mk400 with Mk528 Dart engines and the large freight door, but without the all metal, watertight freight floor.”
The aircraft made its first flight on November 24th, 1955, before becoming one of the most successful planes produced in Europe. The first airline to enter it into service was Aer Lingus, which took on two planes on November 19th, 1958, and introduced the type the following month. Following the flag carrier of Ireland, Braathens S.A.F.E and Trans-Australia Airlines took delivery of the next bunch of aircraft.
There were numerous editions of the F27 Friendship launched over the years.
- F27-100 – The first production model, with a capacity of up to 44 passengers
- F-27 – The version built in the US by Fairchild
- FH-227 – A stretched version of the F-27 built in the US by Fairchild
- F27-200 – Fitted with the Dart Mk 532 engine
- F27-300 Combiplane – Compatible for both passenger and shipping services
- F27-300M Troopship – A military version used by the Royal Netherlands Air Force
- F27-400 – A combi with two Rolls-Royce Dart 7 turboprop engines
- F27-400M – The military version of the -400
- F27-500 – Capable of fitting up to 52 passengers
- F27-500M – Military version of the -500
- F27-500F – A variant of the -500 suitable for cargo operations
- F27-600 – Similar to the -200 with a larger door
- F27-700 – Based on the F27-100 with a larger door for better cargo capabilities
- F27 200-MAR – Unarmed maritime reconnaissance aircraft
- F27 Maritime Enforcer – An Armed maritime reconnaissance variant
26 years of production
According to TravelUpdate, 583 Fokker F27 Friendships were built in the Netherlands. Additionally, another 206 units were produced in the United States by Fairchild. However, production eventually stopped in 1987 due to the rise of the more modern Fokker 50.
The plane continued to be phased out over the last few decades. It is currently a rare sight and, in recent years, it has been more likely to be spotted on display at institutions such as the South Australian Aviation Museum. The exhibit here highlights that its unit was fitted with probes to conduct various atmospheric research projects. If the turboprop is seen today, it is a time capsule representing a significant period in aviation history.
What are your thoughts about the Fokker F-27? Did you ever fly on the plane over the years? Let us know what you think of the aircraft in the comment section.