Ruag nears first delivery of revived Do-228 turboprop

 - July 7, 2010, 7:27 AM

Switzerland’s Ruag Aerospace plans to deliver its first new-build 19-seat Dornier Do-228 New Generation to an as yet unidentified Japanese commuter airline at the end of September, Ruag Aerospace Services sales director Hubert Seher told AIN at the Regional Airline Association Convention in Milwaukee in late May. Exhibiting for the first time at an RAA show, Ruag stands now as one of two companies recently to re-introduce a vintage 19-seat unpressurized turboprop to the regional airline and utility market. Canada’s Viking Aerospace re-launched the de Havilland Canada Twin Otter in 2007 and holds a backlog of orders for more than 50 airplanes worth more than $200 million. However, Seher sees the Do-228 as a more credible replacement for aging Beech 1900s, Fairchild Metros and Embraer Bandeirantes still flying thanks to its superior payload capabilities and takeoff performance.

Seher said 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 Stol-capable Do-228NG needed no special exemptions to comply with FAR 23.

Of the 1,600 nineteen-seat airplanes built, more than 60 percent have flown for more than 30 years, said Seher. “In the U.S., we look to the Essential Air Service operators,” he said. Ruag now supports Do-228s flown by tour operator Vision Air of Las Vegas and Sheridan, Wyo.-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.  

Ruag on November 12 rolled out its first Do-228 in Oberpfaffenhofen, 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–announced at February’s Singapore Air Show–and the new Japanese customer, along with “a few” others Seher declined to name.

Built in Germany using subassemblies and airframe sections produced by Hindustan Aeronautics in India, the Do-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.