General Atomics buys Dornier 228 manufacturer for unmanned aircraft
General Atomics is an American company, the world leader in drones. They have just purchased the production and maintenance of the Dornier 228, to make it a test platform to develop an unmanned cargo plane for civilian transport. The DO-228 will be modified and improved, since it dates from 1981. Will we soon have unmanned private flights?
General Atomics takes over RUAG-Oberpfaffenhofen
US drone specialist General Atomics will build a new technology location for optionally flown planes in Bavaria. After taking over the old RUAG site, General Atomics AeroTec Systems GmbH in Bavaria will soon also test the Do 228 as an unmanned cargo ship.
The takeover of RUAG Aerospace Services GmbH from Oberpfaffenhofen by General Atomics Europe GmbH in Dresden, announced in mid-October 2020, was completed on February 28, 2021, the two companies announced on Monday. General Atomics Europe is thus expanding its offer to include the maintenance and repair of business jets and military helicopters as well as the production and maintenance of the Dornier 228. The former parent company of RUAG Aerospace Services, the Swiss technology group RUAG International will limit itself in the future to the construction of aircraft structures at the Oberpfaffenhofen site.
The approximately 420 employees of the former RUAG Aerospace Services (RUAG AS) at the Oberpfaffenhofen site would be taken over. In the future, the company will operate as a subsidiary of General Atomics Europe GmbH under the name of General Atomics AeroTec Systems GmbH.
Following this takeover, General Atomics Europe will become a technology group of more than 1000 employees. There is great potential for growth and innovation in the civil and military aviation sector. In addition to the further development of existing activities, the Oberpfaffenhofen site will be expanded to become the company’s European aviation hub. All the essential activities of operational aviation are brought together in Oberpfaffenhofen. In addition to the expansion of existing businesses, expansion to include service areas such as component overhaul and engineering services is planned. The highly qualified employees and the aviation law approvals of the Oberpfaffenhofen company provide the best prerequisites. The expansion of the engine maintenance area to include a test stand has already started.
“The Do 228 needs to be converted into a technology support for optional crewed aircraft so that it can be operated remotely by pilots on board as well as from a ground station. The first flight of this technology carrier is expected in about two and a half years, which will also open the possibility of further development to function as an unmanned civilian cargo ship, ” said Managing Director Harald Robl. I see good market potential for the Dornier 228.
The American technology group General Atomics Europe takes over the Dornier 228. In an interview, boss Harald Walter Robl talks about further developments, new models and collaborations.
Have you ever flown a Dornier 228?
Harald Walter Robl: After being cleared to fly a Dornier 228 for an island transfer a few years ago, I recently took the first opportunity in Oberpfaffenhofen to fly again in this world-class aircraft. Of course, it is now a completely different perspective to sit on an airplane whose peculiarities you know very well and which I will be responsible for further development in the future.
And what do you personally associate the turboprop aircraft with?
The Do228 is based on a long tradition of excellent aircraft manufacturers. I was born in Bavaria and raised in Munich, so very close to where the Dornier 228 has been produced since 1981. I look forward to being responsible for ensuring that this aircraft does not just meet demands that our customers rightly impose on us. The Do228 will also be the platform for innovative developments. In doing so, we are building a bridge between a great tradition and an innovative future.
With General Atomics Europe, you can now purchase the rights to Dornier 228 from the Swiss state group Ruag. Why?
First and foremost, we acquire a company with experienced and motivated employees and a large certified base for the development, manufacture and maintenance of aircraft. This global competence is no longer found very often in Germany. For us, this acquisition means a lasting strengthening of our market position in the European aviation industry. By bringing together the skills of General Atomics Europe and Ruag Aerospace Services, we have created a technology group that presents good growth opportunities in the civil and military aviation sectors. In particular, we see great potential in combining the know-how related to the Do228 with the expertise of General Atomics in the field of unmanned aircraft. General Atomics always aims to be a driver of innovation. And that’s exactly what we want to achieve with this takeover: with our combined skills, we want to give completely new impulses in civil cargo aviation, for example.
We see the opportunity to give impetus to future unmanned cargo aviation.