Almost two decades after the final Dornier 328 was built, the turboprop airliner is to re-enter production – some 273 miles (440km) north of the original assembly line in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.
The aircraft’s type certificate holder, 328 Support Services (328SSG), has formed DRA GmbH, a new aircraft original equipment manufacturer. It has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the German Federal and State of Saxony ministries to establish a production line for the D328NEU, an updated variant likely to feature improved avionics as well as reduced noise and CO₂ emissions, at Leipzig/Halle Airport. It is hoped that the project will create up to 250 new jobs in Leipzig, and an additional 100 plus jobs at 328SSG’s HQ in Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich.
Dave Jackson, managing director of 328SSG, said: “We are proud to have won the confidence of the German government in supporting this exciting new programme, and recognise the continuing support of our owners, employees and business partners. Germany’s return to the design and building of a Part 25 category commercial aircraft is long overdue and this new operation intends to create an aviation legacy founded on the heritage of aircraft pioneers.”
The type certificate holder hopes the D328NEU will “offer a suitable replacement solution for ageing ‘in service’ aircraft… as well as supporting the growing global market demand of new route development”. In July 2018, 328SSG signed a Letter of Intent with North Carolina-based AMC Aviation to develop a multi-role/multi-mission variant of the D328.
Currently, the US Air Force operates 20 examples of the C-146A Wolfhound, a militarised variant of the Dornier 328 which it states is used to provide “flexible, rapid, intra-theatre mobility for special operations forces”.