Dornier Do 228NXT (c/n 8181, D-CNXT of General Atomics AeroTec Systems), static display during Belgian Air Force Days, Kleine-Brogel, September 2023.
In May of 2023, we have presented the story of development of Dornier Do 228 aircraft, as well as some details from its service with the German Naval Aviation (Marineflieger). Our article was concluded with brief presentation of Do 228NG (New Generation) and acquiring the rights to that type of aircraft by General Atomics.
This time, we would like to introduce you the newest variant of the aircraft, designated Dornier Do 228NXT (Next Generation).
In October of 2020, General Atomics AeroTec Systems (GA-ATS) began the process of acquiring the Oberpfaffenhofen aviation plant and the Dornier 228 programme from RUAG Aerospace Services. The purchase was officially finished in March of the next year and, apart from the Do 228, included the repair and overhaul activities, as well as helicopter maintenance. The aerostructure part of the RUAG´s aviation business in Oberpfaffenhofen, and manufacturing parts for Airbus, remained with the previous owner.
Shortly after taking over the German plant, GA-ATS announced that its future vision includes significant growth of aviation activities in Oberpfaffenhofen, far beyond the then existing business area, with reactivation of the Dornier Do 228 production as important part of the plan.
In June of 2022, GA-ATS informed about the company´s plan to relaunch serial production of the Do 228. The aircraft had to be significantly upgraded to meet current performance and environmental requirements, as well as include up-to-date avionics suite. In addition, the company informed about planned construction of new production line that would incorporate modernization of manufacturing process. According to official GA-ATS statements, the first production aeroplanes were expected to roll out in 2024.
In May of this year, GA-ATS officially informed about commencing of series production of the Do 228NXT in Oberpfaffenhofen. At the beginning, the company was going to launch small-series manufacturing with up to five aeroplanes built per year.
Following information disclosed by its manufacturer, the Do 228NXT is a significantly upgraded variant of the well-known aeroplane with more than forty years of service record. The new version of the aircraft received, inter alia, new glass cockpit with advanced synthetic vision system and modern navigation suite, as well as improved autopilot with optimized fuel efficiency and flight planning. Interior of the aircraft was also modernized, featuring LED lightning, enhanced air conditioning and new ventilation systems. The Do 228NXT is also following the REACH Compliance Requirements for chemical substances set by the European Union.
The new version of the Do 228 will be manufactured in cooperation with Potez Aéronautique. The French aviation company will produce fuselage and a few other individual parts, while final assembly will take place in Oberpfaffenhofen. Official presentation of the Next Generation programme and details of cooperation between two aviation manufacturers took place during the Le Bourget air show, in June of 2023.
The new Do 228 is marketed by the company as the aircraft tailored for broad range of special operations, such as military and government law enforcement, maritime patrol, surveillance and reconnaissance, fishery patrol, paratrooper transport and medevac duties. Effective range of the Do 228NXT operational altitude falls between low level flying to 10,000 feet, although the aircraft is certified to operate with altitudes up to 25,000 feet.
Before the first newly manufactured aeroplane rolls out the production line, GA-ATS created the Do 228NXT technology demonstrator, by conversion of one of already existing aeroplanes. Reportedly, it was the Dornier Do 228-212 with c/n 8181, built in 1990 and formerly served with the Netherlands Coast Guard (Kustwacht), registered as PH-CGN.
Public premiere of the Do 228NXT technology demonstrator took place in September of 2023. The aeroplane was presented at the static display during the Belgian Air Force Days, attracting attention of both professionals and aviation enthusiasts. Another example of the Do 228, the aircraft registered as D-CNEU, participated in the BAF Days flying display programme.