Ruag Aerospace plans to deliver its first new-build 19-seat Dornier 228 New Generation to a still-unidentified Japanese commuter airline at the end of September. The Switzerland-based group is one of two companies to recently re-introduce a vintage 19-seat unpressurized turboprop to the regional airline and utility market.
Canada’s Viking Aerospace re-launched the de Havilland Twin Otter in 2007 and holds a backlog of more than 50 airplanes worth more than $200 million. However, Ruag Aerospace Services sales director Hubert Seher sees the Do 228
as a more credible replacement for aging Beech 1900s, Fairchild Metros and Embraer Bandeirantes still flying due to its superior payload capabilities and takeoff performance.
Seher told AIN that the company plans to build between 12 and 18 airplanes a year and sees Asia, Africa and South America as its primary markets. Capable of flying at least 450 nm with a full payload, the 228NG needed no special exemptions to comply with FAR 23, which requires one-engine-out takeoff capability. It also boast good short takeoff and landing performance.
The new 228NG is expected to complete European certification by the end of the third quarter, with U.S. approval to follow soon after.
Of the 1,600 19-seat airplanes on the market, more than 60 percent have flown for more than 30 years, said Seher. Ruag now supports Do 228s flown by U.S. tour operator Vision Air of Las Vegas and Sheridan, Wyoming-based charter operator BigHorn Airways.
Worldwide, the company expects the airplane to play a larger role in utility and military operations than in airline passenger service. “There is a big gap especially in Brazil and South America, because there is no successor to [the Bandeirante],” said Seher.
On November 12 last year, Ruag rolled out its first Do 228 at its Oberpfaffenhofen facility in southern Germany, where Dornier and its successor, Fairchild Dornier, built more than 200 of the airplanes between 1982 and 2002.
In 2003 Ruag bought out of bankruptcy the Aircraft Services division of the defunct Fairchild Dornier, and with it, the type certificate for the Do 228. It
announced the launch of the Do 228NG in 2007 and since then has secured an order for a single airplane from Lufttransport of Norway and the new Japanese customer, along with “a few” other undisclosed operators in Australia, Argentina, Vietnam and Mexico.
Built in Germany using subassemblies and airframe sections produced by Hindustan Aeronautics in India, the 228NG has improved performance thanks to its new 776-shp Honeywell TPE331-10 engines and new five-blade propellers.
The cockpit features a glass avionics suite with an improved flight management system and a four-screen electronic flight information system from Universal Avionics, as well as radios and navigation equipment from Rockwell Collins.
The powerplant improvements for the new-generation version are covered by STCs and will be available for retrofit on earlier models.
The new avionics suite is already certified, having been incorporated into a pair of 228s now in service with the Dutch coast guard.
The propeller, which weighs 77 pounds less than the original four-bladed unit, is designed and manufactured by Germany’s MT Propeller. In a series of some 350 modifications, Ruag has also replaced a number of minor parts around the airframe to further reduce weight and improve reliability.