Few aircraft tick both the boxes marked “significant historic” and “new production,” but Swiss-based Junkers Flugzeugwerke’s EBACE exhibit is a notable exception.

The world’s first all-metal transport aircraft, covered in corrugated Duralumin, the Junkers F13, first flew at Dessau, Germany on 25 June 1919 and by 1925 had captured some 40% of the international traffic route network, serving operators in more than 30 countries. Some were used as business aircraft, complete with a secretary’s typewriter perch in some cases, but the standard fit was four seats in the cabin, plus two pilots in an open cockpit.

Production totalled at least 322, including some under licence in Russia, and the last was withdrawn from revenue-earning service in 1951. Approximately six remain, of which only one is in flyable condition.

There might the history books have ended their story, save for the efforts of Dieter Morszeck and the Rimowa company, manufacturers of metal suitcases, working with several other foundations and contributing companies. A decade ago, what was left of the original blueprints were borrowed, supplemented by laser scans of an original aircraft in a Paris museum, and the Verein der Freunde Historischer Luftfahrzeuge eV (VFHL), supported by Ju-Air (operator of pleasure flight Junkers Ju 52s at Dübendorf, Switzerland), laid plans to build new F13s from scratch.

Fabrication of the “prototype” was assigned to NAEF Flugmotoren AG, which had rebuilt a Ju 52 (CASA 352L) for VFHL in 1991-97. Structural elements were assembled by Kaelin Aerotechnologies GmbH; and engineering undertaken by AeroFem GmbH.

Construction began May 2013 and the complete but unflown first aircraft (registered HB-RIM) was shipped to the U.S. for its public debut at AirVenture, Oshkosh in July 2015. However, its maiden flight did not take place in Swiss skies until September 2016.

Inevitably, detail upgrades have been made to the design in the interests of safety – although a derated 336 kW (450 hp) Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-14B Wasp Junior nine-cylinder radial engine and North American AT-6 Texan brakes and wheels, both from the 1930s, are hardly state-of-the-art.

In January last year, following a 30-hour flight test program, the Swiss Bundesamt für Zivilluftfahrt (BAZL: Federal Office for Civil Aviation) granted Type Certificate for passenger flying and, the following month, legal clearance was obtained to use the original manufacturer’s name: Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG arose once again as Swiss company, based at Dübendorf. The company is now pursuing FAA certification in the standard category so it can carry passengers for hire in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Come April 2018, and at the light aviation show at Friedrichshafen, Germany, speculative manufacture was announced of three further aircraft, at an “introductory price” of EUR2.5 million and with an 18-month lead-time. Until the first appears in the next few weeks, HB-RIM is bearing the full burden of promotional flights as far afield as the UK but, significantly, also to Dessau on 25 June to mark the F13’s exact centenary.

60,000 hand-made parts held together by 35,000 rivets: that’s history re-created in Switzerland. “You have to understand,” says Morszeck, “that although this design first flew 100 years ago, our Junkers is a brand new, new production airplane built to current standards.”