You Might Like
Dornier 328
Dornier 328

The Dornier 328 is a turboprop-powered commuter airliner. Initially produced by Dornier Luftfahrt GmbH, the firm was acquired in 1996 by Fairchild Aircraft. The resulting firm, named Fairchild-Dornier, manufactured the 328 family in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, conducted sales from San Antonio, Texas, United States, and supported the product line from both locations. A jet-powered version of the aircraft, the Fairchild Dornier 328JET, was also produced.


The Dornier 328 (or Do 328) program was initially started while Dornier was still owned by Deutsche Aerospace. According to Deutsche Aerospace program manager Reinhold Birrenbach, the 328 had its origins in market research conducted in and around 1984; feedback from airlines indicated a desire for a fast, quiet, and easy-to-maintain commuter airliner with a 30-seat capacity.[2] This market research reportedly led Deutsche Aerospace to formulate a sales prediction of 400 or greater units being purchased overall; this forecast was in part derived from the reasoning that the 328 would be more advanced than its nearest competitors.[3] Favourable features included a high cruising speed of 345 kt (640 km/h), as well as a higher cruising altitude and range, making the aircraft almost as fast as jet airliners while being more fuel-efficient; a trend away from spoke–and-hub distribution in favour of point-to-point transit was also viewed as being favourable to the 328.[4]

In December 1988, the 328 project was relaunched following the granting of shareholder approval after negotiations between the Dornier family and Daimler Benz.[2][5] As the result of a six-month evaluation, a selection of powerplants deemed to be appropriate for the 328 was formed, these being the General Electric CT7-9D, the Garrett TPE-341-21, and the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW119A. While the Garrett engine was viewed by Deutsche Aerospace as being technically superior, Pratt & Whitney's powerplant was more advanced in development, thus was chosen.[6] The engine selection was soon followed by the selection of a six-bladed composite propeller from Hartzell, Hartzell's submission being reportedly substantially lighter than competing bids from Dowty and Hamilton Standard.[6] Following various considerations between electromechanical and digital instrumentation, Dornier opted for a digital glass cockpit and selected Honeywell to provide this after considering options from Saab Group, Rockwell Collins, and Smiths Aerospace.[7]

In May 1991, Horizon Air, a US-based airline, placed an order for 35 aircraft; this was the largest order for the 328 at that point and was larger than any other order for it or its competitors to be placed that year.[5] In October 1991, the first prototype of the 328 was formally rolled out.[8] On 6 December 1991, the first prototype conducted the type's maiden flight.[9] On 4 June 1992, a second 328 prototype performed its first flight.[10] On 14 December 1992, one of the 328 prototypes suffered a near-catastrophic in-flight propeller failure when all six propeller blades on one engine detached before puncturing the fuselage; the subsequent temporary loss of control caused the aircraft to roll 280° and descend 5,000 ft before control was recovered.[11]

On 13 October 1993, the 328 formally entered commercial service.[12][13] The 328 was launched into the market during a period of large numbers of competing turboprop aircraft, as well as increasing competition from newly launched regional jets, which were becoming increasingly popular during the early 1990s.[14][15][16] The 328 had the advantages of being both quieter and faster than many of its rivals, but this did not ensure its commercial success.[14] The latter half of the 328 program took place during a recession, which curtailed demand for new aircraft from operators.[5] Both the 328 and the wider Dornier division of Deutsche Aerospace proved to be losing money; accordingly, Deutsche Aerospace wavered in committing more resources to the regional aircraft market, repeatedly delaying a decision to proceed with a 48-seat stretched model of the 328, which had originally been unveiled in 1991.[17][18][19]

During the early 1990s, Deutsche Aerospace and Fokker explored the prospects of a commercial relationship to mutually engage the regional aircraft market;[15] this cumulated in Deutsche Aerospace purchasing a 40% stake in Fokker in 1993.[20] In June 1995, Deutsche Aerospace and Daewoo Heavy Industries were reportedly conducting talks on the establishment of a second 328 assembly line in South Korea for the Asian market.[21] In 1995, both Fokker and Deutsche Aerospace suffered substantial financial difficulties, which ultimately led to the end of the latter's ambitions to dominate the European regional aircraft market.[22][20] In June 1996, Deutsche Aerospace sold the majority of Dornier Luftfahrt GmbH to American manufacturer Fairchild Aircraft, leading to the creation of Fairchild Dornier GmbH.[14] The newly combined Fairchild Dornier company emerged as the third-largest regional aircraft manufacturer in the world, and viewed the 328 as being both a key product in its lineup and the basis for a future family of aircraft.[14]

Continuing development of a jet-powered variant of the 328 was initially designated as the Dornier 328-300 and later simply known as the Dornier 328JET, which had been started under Deutsche Aerospace. Fairchild Dornier also sought to develop a stretched version, designated as the Dornier 428JET, and a dedicated freighter model.[14][23][24] Additionally, Farchild Dornier developed a larger aircraft, the Fairchild Dornier 728 family. In addition to typical passenger models, business jet configurations of both the 728JET and 928JET were projected, tentatively referred to as Envoy 3 and Envoy 7, respectively.[14] The ambitious family project drew the support of the German government, which guaranteed US$350 million in loans for the scheme.[14] During the late 1990s, Fairchild Dornier struggled to find both capital and strategic partners to support the project, and the company ultimately entered bankruptcy in April 2002.[14]

Following the bankruptcy of Fairchild Dornier, AvCraft Aviation acquired the Dornier 328/328JET rights, but this company entered bankruptcy itself less than three years later.[25][26] In June 2006, 328 Support Services GmbH acquired the type certificate for the Dornier 328.[27] It provides maintenance, repair, and overhaul services to the existing in-service fleet.[28]

In February 2015, US engineering company Sierra Nevada Corporation acquired 328 Support Services GmbH.[29][25] Shortly thereafter, Sierra Nevada's owner, Turkish-American engineer Fatih Ozmen established a private corporation named Özjet Havacılık Teknolojileri A.Ş. at Technopark of Bilkent University, Ankara, and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Transportation Ministry of Turkey to manufacture the 328 at Ankara.[30] In June 2015, the Turkish government launched the Turkish TR328 and TRJ328 regional aircraft project, a modernized 328/328JET, with either turboprops or jets for civil and military use [31] and a larger TR628/TRJ-628[32] forecasting a break-even level and market of 500–1000 for each type.

While first flight was anticipated in 2019, Turkey abandoned the program in October 2017, after facing increasing costs and being no longer confident of market demand forecasts. Believing in the under 40-seat market, Sierra Nevada Corporation and 328 Support Services GmbH are searching for other means to revive the aircraft, hoping to follow through by the end of 2017 or early 2018.[33]

Existing aircraft can be sourced by 328 Support Services and converted for civil transport, military operations, medical evacuation, or freighter or utility missions for $7–9 million, including zero time turboprops. Sierra Nevada Corp. plans to build a new stretched 328 in Germany.[34]

A 21 August 2019 press-conference should precise the manufacturer establishment in Leipzig, Saxony.[35] On this day, 328 Support Services announced the formation of DRA GmbH to establish its final assembly line for the D328NEU at Leipzig/Halle Airport, creating of up to 250 new jobs there and over 100 jobs in Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich; the programme should be detailed late in the first quarter of 2020.[36] To revive the turboprop design, SNC should invest €80 million ($88.75 million) in DRA while the state of Saxony pledged €6.5 million.[37]


The Dornier 328 is a twin-turboprop engined, regional aircraft, principally designed for short-haul passenger operators; Deutsche Aerospace often promoted the type as being a "third-generation airliner".[2] The fuselage of the 328 employs an unusual streamlined shape, having been optimised for high cruising speeds; the aircraft is capable of higher cruise and approach speeds than most turboprop-powered aircraft, which allows it to be more readily slotted around jetliners during landing approaches.[38] According to Deutsche Aerospace, the 328 offered the "lowest noise level, widest cabin, highest standing room, widest cabin floor, and widest seats in the three-abreast class".[39] The 328 is capable of operations from semiprepared airstrips and rough runways, incorporating features such as its retractable landing gear being equipped with high-floatation tyres and steerable nose gear and a gravel guard.[40]

It is equipped with a pair of Pratt and Whitney PW119C turboprop engines, which drive fully reversible Hartzell HD-E6C-3B propellers.[40] The propeller blades generate notably less noise in comparison to their contemporary counterparts due to features such as their lower rotation speed,[41][5] propeller synchrophasing, and the use of a six-blade configuration.[6] The propeller system is dual-acting, being capable of adjusting pitch to maintain a constant engine speed.[6] During the early 1990s, the manufacturer claimed that the use of various noise-reduction measures across the aircraft kept the internal cabin noise "below that of even some modern jet aircraft".[8]

The fuselage of 328 allows for a comfortable three-abreast, airline-style seating arrangement to be used, as well as a dense, four-abreast configuration to accommodate greater passenger numbers, of which it is able to carry a maximum of 27.[40] A total of six cabin configurations is available for passenger and cargo operations; these include a flexible combi aircraft layout with a movable wall separating passengers and cargo, and a medical evacuation arrangement equipped with biofloors and positions for four litters and medical attendees.[40] The 328 is pressurized, a first for Dornier-built aircraft, which was implemented to achieve a higher level of passenger comfort; the passenger cabin is designed to be more akin to those of much larger passenger aircraft.[38] A full-sized galley, toilet, and washbasin can also be installed.[2]

The 328 is furnished with the same supercritical wing design that had been originally developed for Dornier's earlier Do 228; this wing provides the aircraft with both excellent cruise and climb capabilities.[41][5] The straightforward construction techniques of the Do 228 were also reproduced for the 328, despite making increased use of composite materials in areas such as the rear fuselage and empennage. The 328 reportedly made greater use of composites than any of its direct competitors at launch, the use of the Kevlar-carbon fiber composites is claimed to have reduced its weight by 20%.[41][42] Various materials are used across the airframe; amongst these, an aluminium alloy is used for the pressure fuselage and much of the wingbox, a titanium alloy for the tail cone, and glass fibre-reinforced plastic for the radome and leading edge of the vertical stabilizer.[43] Noise-absorbent material is located across the fuselage, while the cabin wall is hung from isolator brackets to reduce vibration and noise transference.[41][42]

The two-man glass cockpit of the 328 is equipped with a Honeywell Primus 2000 avionics suite, and the cockpit is outfitted with an electronic flight instrument system comprising five 20 x 17.5 cm cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors.[40] The central CRT serves as the engine-indicating and crew-alerting system, while the two inner CRTs are used as multifunctional displays and the outermost two CRTs perform as the primary flight displays.[43] Addition avionics include a dual integrated avionics computer, a digital databus (a commercial derivative of the MIL-STD-1553 databus), dual Primus II integrated radio system, automatic flight control system, dual digital air data reference units, Primus 650 weather radar, dual mode-S transponder, enhanced ground proximity warning system, and traffic collision avoidance system.[40][41][44]

Operational history

In 2005, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority awarded a contract to AeroRescue to provide long-range search and rescue capability around Australia. Accordingly, five 328-100s were progressively commissioned from April 2006 [45] to February 2007 and stationed around the Australian coastline to provide a 24-hour, 30-minute response capability. These aircraft were equipped with a comprehensive electronic sensor suite by Aerodata AG in Germany including; Israel Aerospace Industries ELTA EL/M 2022A Radar, FSI Star SAFire III Forward Looking Infra Red, Direction Finder and an ARGON ST Infra Red/Ultra Violet scanner. The aircraft are also fitted with an Aeronautical Engineers Australia dispatch system, allowing rescue stores to be dropped from the aircraft through a chute through the underwing emergency exit. These are progressively being upgraded with an in-flight-opening cargo door to allow dispatch of larger items, up to 20-man life rafts, and boat-dewatering pumps for open-water rescues.


  • 328-100 – Initial 328.
  • 328-110 – Standard 328 with greater range and weights
  • 328-120 – 328 with improved STOL performance
  • 328-130 – 328 with progressive rudder authority reduction at higher airspeeds
  • 328JET – turbofan-powered variant, formerly the 328-300
  • C-146A Wolfhound – designation assigned to 17 Dornier 328s operated by the United States Air Force's Air Force Special Operations Command.[46]
  • 328Neu new production in Leipzig, announced in August 2019.[36]


In July 2018, 24 aircraft remain in airline service. Major operators include: Express Air (6) and DANA (4). Seven other airlines operate smaller numbers of the type.[47] By 2018, 328 Support Services supported 200 turboprops and jets.[34] By August 2019, 58 turboprops and 50 jets were in service, with the largest operators being the US Air Force (20 units), Danish carrier Sun-Air (12), German- Private Wings (10), and American Ultimate Jetcharters (8); 19 turboprops and nine jets were in storage, while 79 have been retired.[35]

  • Air Force Special Operations Command (17)[46]
  • Dornier Aviation Nigeria AIEP (4)


Specifications (Dornier 328-110)

General characteristics


Avionics Honeywell Primus 2000

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

You Might Like