Swiss-German aircraft manufacturer, RUAG, has put together a new variant of the Dornier 228, widely used in India, and is now discussing the design with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the only licensed manufacturer of the aircraft.
The aircraft is currently operated by, both, the Indian Navy as well as the Indian Air Force. RUAG’s Vice President for Sales and Business Development, Klaus-Peter Leinauer told StratPost at the Dubai Air Show last week, “The difference between the Dornier 228 New Generation and the old version which is being produced in India under license is the glass cockpit. And you can see here the five bladed propeller and the engine – the Honeywell (Garrett) TPE 331 engine – dash 10. Original is the dash 5 engine, this is the dash 10 engine.”
RUAG says the glass cockpit has four large displays, which include two primary flight displays and two multi-functional displays. In the autopilot mode, the aircraft is also certified for single-pilot IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flights.
The propeller has a ‘wooden core and a surface consisting of multiple fiber composite layers’. Ruag expects this to allow the engine to start quicker and the narrow diameter blades to reduce vibration and noise. The company also says the aircraft’s fuel consumption of 5.41 liters is good for 100 passenger kilometers.
“One very simple thing,” says Leinauer, “With the five-bladed propeller, the diameter’s less, so you have more freedom with the floor in terms of ground clearance. The ground clearance is better, its better for take-off or landing on gravel, for example. On unpaved runways.”
Leinauer says his company has offered these upgrades to HAL. “We offer them (HAL) the upgrade to the achieved standard – yes. It can be done at any time. They can fit the new cockpit, they can fit the new avionics, they can fit the propellers. We are talking to them and this is something that definitely we want to do,” he says.
He says the aircraft is more flexible due to the avionics upgrade. “If you have better avionics you can fly different missions – you have autopilot you have flight management system you have TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) you have TAWS (Terrain Awareness Systems) – so that gives you flexibility and also, as I said, certain performance related advantages over the old version,” adds Leinauer.
The NG will bring increase the weight and temperature restrictions, according to him. “Mainly weight and temperature limits, for example, which is at least 15 percent better than the old version. And accelerate and stop distance – basically take-off performance will be better,” he says.
RUAG is still evaluating the performance of the new model. “We are right now in the phase of evaluating the performance. We only finished the flight tests 6-7 weeks ago,” says Leinauer, adding, “We will have these figures available by the end of the year.”
Aviation Week reported last week that the Bangladesh Navy has ordered two of these aircraft, besides Japan, Norway and Germany. Besides the 19-seat commuter version, the aircraft also has a special missions configuration which could have applications for surveillance, search and rescue and medical evacuations.
This configuration has been deployed by the Netherlands, Finland, Germany and Thailand and includes features like: