Taking Off in Eastern Germany

The Sierra Nevada Corporation chose Saxony for a EUR 400 million investment to build short-haul passenger aircraft.

February, 2020

Classic German model revived

Nearly two decades after the celebrated German aircraft maker Dornier closed its doors, U.S. aerospace company Sierra Nevada Corp. is reviving production of the Dornier 328 short-haul passenger aircraft. And they’re doing it in Germany.

After an intensive site selection process, 328 Support Services GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sierra Nevada Corp., chose Germany as the location for its EUR 400 million investment. The new original equipment manufacturer DRA GmbH will produce the D328NEU passenger aircraft at Leipzig/Halle Airport in Saxony, creating up to 250 jobs. An additional 100 jobs will be added at 328 Support Services’ headquarters at the Oberpfaffenhofen Airport near Munich.

Schkeuditz, Saxony on August 21, 2019: German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Eren Ozmen, owner of Sierra Nevada Corp., and Michael Kretschmer, state premier of Saxony, stand in front of a Dornier 328 aircraft at the start of the first national aviation conference at Leipzig/Halle Airport. The conference focused on how the German aviation industry could become more competitive while becoming more environmentally friendly.

© picture alliance/Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa

Reenergizing aircraft construction

The DRA GmbH project represents the first new production facility in the east since the end of aircraft construction in the former East Germany. “Germany’s return to the design and building of a Part 25 category commercial aircraft is long overdue, and the new operation intends to create an aviation legacy founded on the heritage of aircraft pioneers,” says Dave Jackson, managing director of 328 Support Services GmbH. More details on the project will be released in early 2020.

The D328NEU will have new engines, a new cockpit and a slightly extended fuselage that will be able to accommodate 39 passengers, up from the current 32. New propellers will make the D328NEU more fuel-efficient and quieter but preserve “the DNA and reliability of the Dornier 328,” according to DRA.

Buying into history

Dornier Flugzeugwerke was a pioneer of German aviation. Founded in 1914, it became part of Daimler-Benz in 1985 and was acquired by Fairchild Aviation in 1996 before the company’s insolvency in 2002. To continue supporting the aircraft – 180 of which are still in service – 328 Support Services purchased the assets for the plane in 2005. Sierra Nevada Corp. acquired the company in 2015.

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