FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ U.S.-German aircraft maker Fairchild Dornier filed for court protection from creditors Tuesday after failing to find a new business partner.

The company, reportedly facing unexpectedly high development costs for its 70-seat 728 jet and slower orders after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, said it would continue looking for new investors and capital. It cited its products and back orders for aircraft as attractive factors.

``We regret that this step was necessary,'' company head Lou Harrington said in a statement. ``The company's management is committed to develop a workable plan for the future and to do everything to make possible a transition to a new strategic partner.''

A district court in Weilheim near Munich confirmed it had begun insolvency proceedings. In such cases, the court decides whether a company can be restructured or should be liquidated.

The company last week said it was looking for a new strategic partner and held talks with several companies it declined to name.

Fairchild Dornier, based at Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich, employs 3,600 workers in Germany and 700 in the United States. The company was created by Fairchild Aircraft's 1996 acquisition of Dornier Luftfahrt GmbH of Germany from Daimler-Benz Aerospace, now DaimlerChrysler Aerospace.

It has manufacturing and services facilities in San Antonio, Texas, and a sales office in Herndon, Va.

The company is owned by U.S. investment firm Clayton, Dubilier and Rice and Germany's Allianz Capital Partners.