During the early-1980s, Fokker of the Netherlands moved on developing a new, all-modern cost-effective turboprop-powered airliner based on their earlier, proven Fokker F27 "Friendship". The F27, first-flying in 1955, found itself a useful section of market share that followed with some 586 units being completed from 1955 to 1987 (multiple military services also took the type into inventory). From this work was formed the basis for the follow-up "Fokker 50" which retained the same high-mounted monoplane wing arrangement and design attributes to ensure excellent Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) capabilities often required of hard-to-reach airports as well as military operators. A first-flight in prototype form took place on December 28th, 1985, paving the way for stringent testing and type certification. Service introduction began in 1987.
The "Fokker 60" is a direct offshoot of the Fokker 50 line though it is given a lengthened fuselage to better serve the cargo-hauling market.
Production of the Fokker 50/60 ultimately spanned from 1985 until 1997 to which 213 examples were completed and delivered to customers around the globe. Though now officially out-of-production, the aircraft remains in active service with a handful of operators at various levels; these users include Iran, Kenya, Peru, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, and Thailand (2019).
At its core, the Fokker 50 relies on a largely conventional twin-engine arrangement seen in many other Cold War-era and modern aircraft designs. The fuselage is tubular in its general shape with the cockpit (seating two side-by-side) set at the nose and the passenger/cargo section taking up the bulk of the fuselage's volume. The tail unit is of single-rudder configuration with low-mounted horizontal planes for control. The mainplane members are shoulder-mounted along the sides of the fuselage and each carries an underslung, nacelled turboprop engine driving multi-bladed propeller units. At the base of each nacelle is a well for housing the retractable twin-wheeled main landing gear legs. The nose features a short-length, twin-wheeled landing gear leg. The aircraft sits relatively low to the ground providing enhanced access to the fuselage and cargo hold.
Like other aircraft of similar classification, the Fokker 50/60 series achieves its STOL quality through the tried-and-proven high-monoplane wing arrangement which provides the necessary lift-versus-drag balance. The elevated nature of the monoplanes also ensures excellent ground clearance for the spinning propeller blades and ground personnel moving about the exterior of the aircraft.
For its life, the aircraft has been powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW125B or PW127B turboprop engines, each unit supplying up to 2,500 horsepower. Maximum achievable speed is near 350 miles-per-hour with cruising near 330 mph. Range is out to 1,280 miles on internal fuel and its service ceiling reaches 25,000 feet.
The aforementioned primary marks of the line, the Fokker 50 and Fokker 60, each have produced sub-variants. The former has the "F27 Mark 050" and the "F27 Mark 0502", the Mark 0502 differing in its internal arrangement. The latter's "F27 Mark 0604" offering differs in being power by PW127B turboprops, having a longer fuselage and increased MTOW as well as an oversized cargo door to facilitate embarking/disembarking of cargo loads.
The versatility of this aircraft family is such that it quickly went on to see operations in various marketplaces: passenger airliner, Air Force transport and special missions platform, maritime aviation, law enforcement/border patrolling, and special agency transport - all this despite its rather modest production total covering several hundred airframes.