The new D328 Neu will be produced in Saxony. It is supposed to be bigger, quieter and more fuel efficient than its predecessor Dornier 328.
Soon there will be a new aircraft manufacturer in Saxony. A week ago, it was announced that production of the Dornier 328 would resume at Leipzig/Halle Airport. The turboprop aircraft was the last commercial aircraft developed and built in Germany. Now the plans are more concrete: On Wednesday (20 August), the memorandum of understanding for the construction of a final assembly line at the airport of the East German city was signed.
Representatives of the Saxon Ministry of Economics, the airport operator Mitteldeutsche Flughafen AG and the aviation supplier Sierra Nevada Corporation signed the paper. At a press conference, they also revealed more details about the new edition of the Dornier 328 for the first time. The new aircraft will be called D328 Neu – «neu» is the German word for «new».
First delivery planned for 2023
Sierra Nevada Corporation and its German subsidiary 328 Support Services have set up a new subsidiary called DRA for production in Leipzig. Starting next year, the new subsidiary will invest around 80 million euros in the final assembly line in Leipzig. The first machines are to be handed over to customers there from 2023. The Saxony government is supporting the project with around 6.5 million euros.
However, Leipzig will only be the location for the final assembly. The construction of the prototype and the approval of the aircraft will take place in Oberpfaffenhofen, Bavaria. This is where the aircraft originally made its maiden flight and where it was originally manufactured under Dornier.
Testing and maintenance remain in Bavaria
328 Support Services is also based at the Bavarian airport near Munich. There, after the end of Dornier in 2008, it completed a final Dornier 328 itself and now offers maintenance and service for the aircraft type. This part of the business is set to remain in Bavaria despite the new production site in Saxony.
The D328 Neu is equipped with new engines, a new cockpit and a slightly stretched fuselage that can accommodate 39 passengers. According to DRA it will be an aircraft «with the DNA and reliability of the Dornier 328.» New propellers are supposed to make the D328 Neu more fuel efficient and quiet.
Project managers expect high demand
A good environmental performance is also the reason why DRA will offer the D328 Neu only with turboprop engines. Dornier had subsequently developed a jet variant from the Dornier 328 that is somewhat faster but also less fuel efficient. «We see the future in turboprop», says Jon Burgoyne, Vice President of the Sierra Nevada Corporation. The company has already carried out market analyses.
Overall, the newly founded aircraft manufacturer hopes to fill an emerging niche with the modernized Dornier 328. DRA expects demand for more than 4000 aircraft in the 30 to 40 seat range in the future. «So far, there are no economic alternatives», explains Burgoyne. A new landing gear is to position the D328 Neu even more strongly as an all-rounder that can also take off and land from unpaved runways.
Also used as a military transporter
The largest operator of the Dornier 328 to date is the American Air Force, which operates 19 of the turboprop variant as the C-146 A. The C-146 A is a turboprop with a turboprop of up to 1,000 meters. Second is the Danish airline Sun-Air of Scandinavia with 16 Dornier 328 jets. Of the 220 aircraft built to date, around 120 are still in service today. DRA not only plans passenger versions, but also patrol planes or military transporters.
In the picture gallery above you can see pictures of the signing of the Memorandum of understanding to build the D328 Neu and the first model of the aircraft.