Ruag to relaunch Do 228 production

 - December 28, 2007, 7:42 AM
Swiss defense and technology group Ruag has decided to relaunch production of the Dornier 228, the 19-seat regional turboprop its defunct developer stopped building in 1998. The company has scheduled airframe assembly to start next year and deliveries to begin in 2010.

Although the Ruag board has officially approved the project, it did not reveal the number of aircraft it plans to build, nor did it mention any firm orders. A spokesman merely said the production run would involve a double-digit number of units and that demand from current operators of the Do 228 and ongoing negotiations with prospects drove the decision.

The Swiss company took over some divisions of Dornier, located at the Oberpfaffenhofen airfield near Munich, in 2003 after that company went bankrupt. Ruag provides Do 228 support, general aviation maintenance and Airbus subcontract manufacturing, and the company holds the Do 228 type certificate, including STCs for special-mission versions with underbelly pods and large downward-looking openings in the fuselage.

Dornier had built 245 Do 228s at the Oberpfaffenhofen plant starting in 1981, and since 1998 Hindustan Aeronautics has produced more than 60 under license in India under the designation HAL 228. Its developers conceived the Do 228-100 as
a non-pressurized regional aircraft with a square fuselage section for 15 passengers; the stretched version, known as the 228-200, carries as many as 19 passengers in standard airline configuration. Designed to operate from rough fields, it also exhibits exceptional hot-and-high performance. Minimal maintenance requirements ranked as a principal design goal.

Ruag has relaunched the latest version–the Do 228-212. Its specs show a maximum takeoff weight of 14,110 pounds and a takeoff field length of 2,300 feet. Maximum speed of the -212 can reach 223 kias, up from 200 kias in earlier versions. All versions have a wingspan of 55.75 feet. The -100’s overall length is 49 feet 4 inches; a five-foot fuselage extension distinguishes the -200.

Because of a relatively modest cruising speed and the trend toward larger and pressurized regional aircraft in the 1990s, sales to airlines proved somewhat disappointing, but the 228 found additional customers as light military transport and special-mission aircraft, mainly in maritime surveillance by Germany, the UK, several states bordering the North Sea and the Baltic, as well as India, Thailand and Mauritius. Ruag has recently delivered two maritime surveillance aircraft built with refurbished 212 airframes to the Dutch Coast Guard.

The new-generation Do 228-212 will feature the same 776-shp Honeywell TPE331 engines used in earlier versions, but with quiet, multi-blade propellers providing improved takeoff performance and more range. Another major improvement involves a contemporary avionics suite based on systems from Universal and Collins. Most airframe subassemblies, including the wing and fuselage, will come from Hindustan Aeronautics, while final assembly will take place at Oberpfaffenhofen. Ruag has not announced any price so far. It plans to offer both transport and special-mission aircraft.