The Venezuelan Air Force (Aviación Militar Nacional Bolivariana de Venezuela) will operate ten new Dornier Do-228 liaison and utility aircraft before the end of 2014. The German-Swiss designed two-engine turboprop aircraft are an election promise by Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.
The first of the ten aircraft, a second-hand Dornier 228-212 arrived at Maracay Airport in the Latin America country already at the end of January. The second machine is also a pre-owned aircraft. The remaining eight will be brand new Do-228 New Generation aircraft, produced by Swiss RUAG in Oberpfaffenhofen in Southern Germany.
During his election campaign Venezuelan head-of-state Maduro promised to improve travelling between remote areas and regional capitals and to bring villagers medical care and support. With some areas hard-to-reach the Dornier 228s name to be able to cope with adverse weather conditions and less than perfect landing strips the ten Do-228s will be tasked to reach those who are difficult to get to.
The Dorniers will keep a civil registry, but flown by the Venezuelan Air Force on behalf of the government in Caracas.
Building on the heritage of the company founded by Claus Dornier which lasted from 1914 to 1998, RUAG restarted the production of the Dornier 228 in 2009 together with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The Indian company has been producting the Do-228 under license since 1983 and manufactures the major parts of the aircraft. RUAG puts it all together at the old Dornier company location in Oberpfaffenhofen and adds additional equipment the customer wishes.
The RUAG New Generation version of the Do-228 has a new five-blade propeller, a so-called glass cockpit and improved performance such as a longer range. It has a large cargo door, making handling of cargo up to 4,410 lb (2,000 kg) easier. It’s normal take-off distance is only 2,600 feet (793 metres), but used with Short Take-Off and Landing procedures 1,690 feet (515 metres) will do.
The landing strip needs to be at least 1,480 feet (450 metres) long. The Dornier 228 NG has a maximum cruise speed of 234 knots (433 kmh) and a typical range (74% load or 14 passengers) of 690 nautical miles (1118 km). Although it can climb about 1,800 feet per minute, with one engine only the Do-228 NG is still able to do a nice 440 feet/min climb.
Source: RUAG with additional reporting by AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger